At about 2 centuries old, Photography is one of the youngest visual communication art forms, and yet, at the end of the 90s, there was no reputed institution in India for structured learning of professional photography.
Iqbal Mohamed and Anuradha Iqbal - a couple with illustrious careers in advertising photography and advertising, respectively, were very aware of this gap when they nurtured many an aspiring photographer at their studio in Mumbai. They decided to take the plunge into photography education and so, in 2001, Light & Life Academy came to be.
The objective was to provide affordable photography education of a high standard. Through ebbs and flows, they have worked tirelessly for the last 2 decades and inspired hundreds to discover and love the magic of photography.
LLA has been driven by passion from the very beginning, with every aspect of the institution carefully designed - the location, the architecture and facilities. From the outset, it has aimed to balance the positives of a contemporary pedagogy with the ethos of a Gurukul. The approach is to ensure that each individual student learns photography at a conceptual level, at their own pace. The academy lays great emphasis in guiding individuals to develop their vision while nurturing their inner vision. This belief is symbolised in the LLA logo.
The Academy was fortunate to get enthusiastic support from industry leaders - Kodak India, Eastman Kodak USA, Calumet-USA, Photoquip-India, ZenTask-India, Gretag Imaging-Switzerland and LMW- Coimbatore at the time of inception.
Iqbal Mohamed is a visual artist and a mentor to many generations of storytellers. His dedication to the craft, a deep desire to unravel the meaning of life and humility is an inspiration to many. He believes that everyone has the power to change the world by seeing it differently.
After a graduation in history and political science and then an MBA, Iqbal decided to follow his passion, photography. His first step was to study professional photography at the renowned Brooks Institute of Photography, California, USA. He followed it up working with some of the celebrated professional photographers in Hollywood like Dick Zimmerman, Bill Werts & Jay Silverman. Iqbal then came back to India in 1988, amongst the first to do so, to make a career in professional photography.
He went on to gain recognition as one of India’s leading professional photographers. Working across various areas, with many national and international brands. Ford, Toyota, Ashok Leyland, TVS Bikes, Taj Hotels, Reebok, Titan, Coca Cola, CitiBank, Cairn India, BPL, Tamil Nadu Tourism. He has also applied his skills to help NGOs like the Tamil Nadu AIDS Control Society, CRY and the Spastics Society.
As a founder and mentor at LLA, ‘Iqbal Sir’ as he’s known fondly by his students, has been a beacon for all things photography. His deep knowledge of the craft and an inherent desire to share his knowledge serves as the bedrock of the institution. He believes that everyone is inherently creative and can nurture their inner vision in the right environment.
One of the defining forces of Iqbal sir's life has been his deep and lasting connection with nature. He believes that every image he has ever made is a reflection of some aspect of life that he observed in nature – its forms, shapes, sounds, or patterns.
He has created memorable projects on various topics ranging from commemorating the 1000 year old Thanjavur Temple to a UNESCO World Heritage project called 'Nilgiris Mountain Railway and 'Chola Architecture'. His first book – "Portrait & Function Photography" – is the first of its kind, to be published in eight Indian languages besides English.
His enthusiasm towards life, insatiable hunger for knowledge and innate humility continues to bring a sense of awe in all.
Anuradha Iqbal, is the co-founder and director of LLA. She holds a postgraduate degree in Economics from Mumbai University and a Diploma in Advertising & Marketing. Her career started in the field of Advertising where she was in charge of handling brands like Godrej, Taj group of Hotels, Amul, Philips, Ciba Geigy, etc. and grew to become the head of FCB Ulka in Bangalore. Along the way, Anuradha helped create many memorable and award winning campaigns.
Advertising campaigns brought Anuradha and Iqbal Mohamed together. In due course, she was handling operations, planning and business development for Iqbal Mohamed Photography and together they reached greater heights.
When the idea of starting a photography academy emerged, Anuradha took it upon herself to ensure the dream became a reality. Her tenacity has helped LLA wade through tough waters and her ingenuity has propelled the academy to where it is today. She has helped students find their True North and pushed them to adhere to the principles that will help them succeed in their endeavours.
Anuradha, the perpetual optimist, is the strength that drives the brands LLA, LLA Online and Iqbal Mohamed. Her collective vision with Iqbal sir has helped create Light & Life Outreach, the social initiative arm of LLA. Through this initiative, they strive to continue to give back to the society using photography and visual communication.
Kavitha is the main point of contact for all things Academics at LLA. She works closely with Iqbal sir to update the curriculum and ensure that it is current. She helps the teaching faculty plan their classes and closely monitors every student’s progress through the duration of the course. She also conducts special study groups to ensure that no student in the class is left behind. Kavitha ensures that every batch delivers the expected quality of work.
Kavitha Swaminathan completed her postgraduate Diploma in Professional Photography at LLA in 2002 and joined the LLA team in 2008.
(Manager, Student Affairs)
Monica is the first face one meets at LLA. She guides the students through their journey here, helping them navigate the course, the place and the people. She is the point of contact for all the students through the course at LLA.
Monica joined LLA in 2015 and since then, has been an integral part of the LLA team.
R Devaraj completed his post graduation in the field of commerce and started working as an accountant in the Singara Nilgiri plantations company in the year 1995.
With over 20 years of experience in the field of accounts, R. Devaraj joined LLA in 2008 and since then has been managing the accounts and office administration.
(Equipment and Store Supervisor)
The longest serving employee of LLA, Rajendran started working here in 1999, while the campus was being constructed. Once the institute opened, Rajendran showed keen interest in photography and quickly picked up on the process and equipment. Since then he has become the point of contact for all things related to studio equipment including lights, backgrounds, stands, props and any other issues they might have.
Akkas & Annas
The Akkas and Annas form the backbone of the LLA family. They ensure that the campus is in pristine condition and do their best to ensure the students are well fed. They embody the spirit of the Nilgiris and its people : welcoming, generous and jovial. It’s no surprise that they are the most popular folks on campus.