‘The colors of Deepam’ by leading Project 365 photographer Dinesh Khanna

Karthigai festival in Tiruvannamalai hills is very famous. On Karthigai day, a huge fire lamp is lit up on the hill, visible for several kilometers around the hill. The fire (dheepam) is called Mahadeepam. As part of Project 365, Photographer Dinesh Khanna will be creating visuals of Tiruvannamalai Deepam Festival. A five member team, comprising of Project 365 photographers Arnav Rastogi, Bhagyashri Patki, Biju Ibrahim, Leo James and Shiv Kiran will be working with Dinesh Khanna and document the Deepam Festival.

Photographer Dinesh Khanna
Photographer Dinesh Khanna

Dinesh Khanna is one of the leading photographers of Project 365. He is based in Delhi. There are infinite ways of seeing. But when you see the world through Dinesh Khanna’s eyes, you are overcome with an innate sense of awe, besides many other emotions. The reason perhaps is the fact that he shoots from the heart. And it’s his incredible way of juxtaposing what he sees and what he feels that creates images that stay with you forever.

Even though his father was a professional photographer, Dinesh took his time to meander through his advertising career and eventually gave in to his true calling. His dad often urged him to use the camera, travel more often and take pictures of whatever he found interesting. He even grew up learning to make his own prints in the darkroom they had at home. But the rebel in him chose not to follow the conventional ‘son-takes-over-from-father’ routine simply because he felt it was against his principles to adhere to what the caste system followed, something he strongly did not believe in.

However, photography was not just in his blood, it was the one great love and passion of life he could no longer ignore. At first, Dinesh took up a lot of commercial work, which displayed his immense talent and creativity. Gradually, he began traveling more, exploring more, photographing everything that ‘engaged’ him and in the process, enjoying every moment of what he was doing. From Street photography, to portraits to interiors of homes and hotels, travel pictures, photo stories, editorial and food photography, Dinesh’s work spans a varied mix, with many a common aspect… a love for life, a love for colours and a love for people being a few.

His photographs radiate a powerful and positive resonance which is why we want to stop and stare. Not just to admire the sheer beauty of the image, but also to appreciate seeing things the way he sees them. It’s what you call ‘insight’ in advertising terms. For example his iphoto series on ‘kissakhursika’, is a series on chairs. A simple everyday object that we may not even give a second glance to. But the way Dinesh has interpreted this very khursi, as he takes us on a visual journey portraying the significance of the chairs common people sit on (be it watchmen or barbers or children) and the ironic symbolism of a ‘khursi’ in the political context is so basic yet so bold and captivating.

Dinesh’s ‘Incredible India’ series that was created to celebrate the 350th anniversary of the Taj Mahal earned him much fame. So did his solo exhibitions and pictorial books ‘Bazaar’ and ‘Living Faith’ which were born from his many travels and beautifully captured images from various melas, markets and sacred sites in small towns and rural areas.

His works also include stunning portraits of “Artists, Musicians, and Writers” “Mothers & Daughters” and a series on common man at work called “Earning Dignity” which all capture expressions and emotions in a stark yet subtle manner. His photos have also been published in monthly columns like ‘Double Take’ and ‘Urban Trivia’ for First City magazine, which display India’s ironic ‘Tryst with Urbanity’ and also ‘Cellphone Diaries’ for Better Photography.

Dinesh is also the co-founder and managing trustee of the Nazar Foundation in Delhi, a non profit trust that promotes the art of photography through various workshops, interactions and exhibitions. Doing this is his way of sharing his passion with budding and even experienced photographers. This organization also sponsors the biennial ‘Delhi Photo Festival’ which is an incredible platform for photographers to showcase their works.

Dinesh Khanna has displayed his work at several solo and group exhibitions, nationally and internationally at The Habitat Center, India International Center, Palette Gallery, Vadehra Gallery, New Delhi, Oxford Gallery, Kolkata, NCPA, Mumbai, Sundaram Tagore Gallery, New York, The Asia Society, San Francisco, Mondavi Center, UCLA, Los Angeles, Whitechapel Gallery, London and at FotomuseumSwitzerland.
A few of his photographs were also recently featured in an exhibition of paintings titled Soul of Asia Art – an exhibition curated by Sushma Bahl as part of the 44th International Film Festival of India, Goa, 2013.

Based in New Delhi, Dinesh is currently working on his next pictorial book ‘Benaras: Everyday in Eternity’ apart from various other assignments. Whether he is taking pictures of martinis, majestic hotel suites, of a teenager on a terrace or bangles in a bazaar, his work exudes emotions that every viewer can relate to at a very simple level. And we look forward to more.

Dinesh will be reaching Tiruvannamalai on 30th November 2014. During his stay, he will also be presenting his works with our rural audience (the dates will be announced at a later stage). Thank you Dinesh Khanna, for being part of project 365 and visiting this ancient town.


Project 365 is a PUBLIC PHOTOGRAPHIC ART PROJECT initiated by EtP to photo-document the fast changing ancient culture and contemporary lifestyle of the ancient Tamilakam territory. During the first phase, forty photographers will be documenting the multi-cultural aspects of #Tiruvannamalai, South Indian heritage town over a year period (Aug 2014 – July 2015). This Project is led by contemporary Indian photographer Abul Kalam Azad. FOR MORE PROJECT 365 IMAGES, see #etpproject365 In the next five years, EtP will document the Sangam period ports Muziris, Tindis, Korkai and the Cauvery basin culture and lifestyle.

Disclaimer: All rights reserved. All the images published in this blog is copyrighted property of the author and belongs to PROJECT 365 PUBLIC ARCHIVES. Text by Tulsi Swarna Lakshmi Nadar / EtP. Profile by Ami Jangal / EtP. Reprinting / publishing rights reserved by the author and EtP (PROJECT 365 public archives). Prior permission is required for reproduction / re-publishing. For more information about Project 365, contact EtP at {0}4175 237405 / {0}94879 56405 / ekalokam@gmail.com/ FACEBOOK – Project 365

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