Let there be light – By Anuradha Iqbal

Light & Life Academy happened because I was looking for a purpose in life.

In my wildest dreams, I never once thought, Ooty is where I will reach and here make a life, when I chose to go with the flow at every major milestone in life.

I sailed through school, indulged by a father who thought that while academics was important, it was even more important to explore life. I cruised through college indulging again. Sports, debates, NCC, rifle shooting, mountaineering, and when back home from school or college becoming the self appointed local “dada” to “protect” the weak from being bullied.

Light & Life Academy under construction in the year 2000.  The terrain and the logistics of organizing material and manpower was the challenge.
Finally Light & Life Academy is launched with the lighting of this lamp on 21 March, 2001.

Life was very exciting, I was so busy doing so many things that I had no time to think about a future.

Once out of college, I drifted into doing a PG in Economics and then waited to figure out what next ? That’s when I offered an internship in an advertising agency.

Imagine a TamBrahm, from a middle class family, brought up on a diet of vegetarian food and conservative thoughts, rigorously disciplined, armed with a PG degree in economics and with dubious aspirations of becoming an economist, straying into the world of advertising, because an internship was offered. It was a culture shock to say the least. From the attitude to demeanor to dress code to language, it was all almost another world. I couldn’t believe I would fit in. I couldn’t give up without making the effort though. There was so much happening and everything new, I got hooked.

I had put in ten years working in the advertising world and was rapidly seeing myself moving away from the excitement of being a part of the creative process to chasing commercial targets as I moved up the ladder. I was getting jaded. A completely new state of mind I had never before experienced.

One fine day I just could not motivate myself to get to work. A complete lack of purpose. I just quit, with no thought about what I should do next.

I drifted into Iqbal’s studio and helped handle the logistics and his business affairs. It was not much of a challenge because his talent carried the day, but I did help get him noticed in the world of professional photography. I was happy. But I had started to drift, with nothing much to do and no excitement.

Light & Life Academy was the answer and I had my purpose !

Was opening a photography school a risk worth taking? Will we be able to sustain ourselves till the institution stabilizes? Are we experienced enough for this?

Iqbal & I debunked all rational thinking and let passion take over. We just knew that India needed an international standard photography institution and we needed to fill this gap. A purpose worth all we could give. And as long as we kept body and soul together, other hardships could never win.

So here were two reasonably intelligent self-made beings, in a state of willing suspension of disbelief, completely powered by positive thinking, plunging into the domain of education with no experience and little thought about the future, all because we had found a purpose in life.

It has been a roller coaster ride.

17 years since and the Light & Life Academy Alumni are a part of our family. Every hardship dissolves when we hear of their contribution to the world of photography and makes us very proud.

Light & Life Academy is beyond being a purpose. It seems like destiny.

And we continue our chase deeper into the fascinating realms of Light.

Prahlad Kakar arrives to be part of the 10th Anniversary celebration.

Prahlad Kakar arrives to be part of the 10th Anniversary celebration.

The celebrated Dhananjayan Team performing at the outdoor theatre for the 10th Anniversary celebration.