The photographer

Abul Kalam Azad, noted contemporary Indian photographer is one of the foremost exponents of art-photography in India. He is noted for his maverick pro-active approach to critical photography practices. His works are widely exhibited in India and abroad.Abul is born in Kerala to a Tamil family of traders who had migrated to Kerala. Abul was brought up in Mattancherry, the historical heart of Kochi. His childhood environment and the family’s progressive culture encouraged Abul to break religious/caste boundaries. Abul’s passion for the medium was evident from childhood and his father Haneef Rahman became Azad’s first ‘guru’ in photography. Later, he joined as an apprentice in a local studio to develop his skills. At the age of 24, Abul set up his own studio in an old warehouse in Mattancherry called ‘studio Zen’ that consisted of a print-making unit, photographic laboratory and a small space for exhibiting photographs and other art works. He started working with many prominent news agencies, newspapers, and periodicals in India and abroad.

Abul Kalam Azad / Image (C) Manini Rahman Pattanam / Image courtesy EtP Archives

Abul Kalam Azad / Image (C) Manini Rahman Pattanam / Image courtesy EtP Archives


Abul moved to Delhi  during early1990s and worked as a photo-journalist with Press Trust of India (1990-1996), New Delhi Bureau. During his time in Delhi, Abul was actively involved in the activities and initiatives of SAHMAT. In the late 1990s, Abul travelled to Europe for further studies. He was supported by various scholarships, one of which was granted to him by the French Government. He also received a Charles Wallace Award (fellowship 1995), UK and studied photography in the Surrey Institute of Art and Design University College. He left the promising photo-journalist career to follow his passion ‘photography’. In 2000, Abul returned to his native Mattancherry in Kochi and set up an art studio ‘Mayalokam’ in the inspiring labyrinth of ancient warehouses, situated between the Bazaar Road and the Harbour front. Soon, Mayalokam studio became a cultural hub for local, national and international artists and enthusiasts in various disciplines. Eventually, Mayalokam became ‘Mayalokam Art Collective’ to include other artists.

Abul had been a frequent to Tiruvannamalai since mid 1990s and in the year 2010, Azad moved his base to Tiruvannamalai. He is the leading founder of EtP (Ekalokam Trust for Photography), a Trust dedicated to conserving, archiving and protecting contemporary photography. He is also the recipient of senior fellowship (2012 – 2013) from Ministry of Culture, Government of India.

Abul Kalam Azad has three children Mahima Rahman Pattanam, Manini Rahman Pattanam and Naryanan Rahman Pattanam.


For more information please see wiki page:

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s