New York is under the snow. There is a good opportunity for snow shots in Central Park but today I am not going to talk about it. If you follow my blog you know how I promote good photographers and pictures. I wrote several things under this headline ‘Fotoğrafçılar ve hikayeleri’ (Photographer and their stories) couple of times. I realized that two days ago I am not alone to promote good photographers and pictures. The Guardian web site http://www.guardian.co.uk/ is doing the same thing and is a little bit more professional. The title called ‘My best shot’ and is written by Andrew Pulver. I am going to put the link here; http://www.guardian.co.uk/artanddesign/series/mybestshot. I hope one day I will be able to make a page for only such a good art in my newspaper. Anyway for now I am still putting good pictures on my blog so if you have a good picture and story please send me.
Raghu Rai's best shotWhen I was doing my second book, about old Delhi, I was in the habit of visiting the Jama Masjid, one of the oldest mosques in India. I used to meet a politician there called Saeed, a very nice guy. One day he said to me: "You should come with me and you won't believe your eyes."
We walked half a mile up the ridge behind the mosque to his house. Because of its position, you could see the whole city. It was a wonderful sight: you could see the mosque, the Red Fort, the old city. It was late summer and people were spending their afternoons on rooftops: young people flying kites, that sort of thing. I started shooting and kept going for two or three hours. But, fascinating though the panorama was, I thought something was missing. I couldn't connect with it in a human way.
Then, as the sun was setting, I walked down a staircase from the roof, and saw this young woman doing namaz, praying, in Saeed's cousin's house. I took four or five quick shots. I was lucky: it all came together, the light, the clouds, the landscape and the figure. I've never actually met the woman I photographed, but after the picture won an award, I gave a print and a copy of my book to Saeed. I know the whole family was delighted with how it turned out.
I used to work for newspapers – until I realised that daily stories died a daily death. I felt an image must stay alive, live for itself, be timeless. Stuff in papers doesn't last. We have a beautiful word in Hindi, darshan, that sums this up. Literally, it means "seeing", but it's more seeing in totality, seeing the connections between things. Photography for me is a darshan of my country, and this picture is a particularly magical and intense experience. India is my canvas, my world.
Born: Jhang, India (now Pakistan), 1942.
Inspirations: "Henri Cartier-Bresson. He has left so much for us to explore."
High point: "It is still coming. There is no time to relax."
Top tip: "The more you learn, the more you explore. I know one thing: they say genius is born not made, but genius has to be reborn every minute."