An ace of ace

Ace photographer T S Satyan’s recent demise, brought back memories of the occasions I had shared with him. A diminutive man, Satyan was approachable with any number of requests. I met him often to benefit from his expertise in photography. We would lay before him the photographs we had taken to be used as greeting cards.
He didn’t mince words in pointing out the wrong choices, deficiencies in the composition. Often we were devastated at his onslaught. Fresh attempts were made after he suggested what the composition of the photographs could be. Simplicity and accessibility were his hallmarks. Satyan became a friend and a guide. He put us in touch with his contacts.

Conversing with the Satyans was a pleasure. Combined with the warmth of their hospitality, we had no second thoughts in following up on the impulse of visiting his home. His repertoire of anecdotes had our attention focused. As our familiarity with him grew, I felt comfortable in requesting him to take a photograph of the building which housed our institution.

He chose a late afternoon when the natural light would be most appropriate. On arrival in the campus, he waited till he was satisfied with the cloud formation and its location in the sky, in relation to the building. He didn’t name his price for obliging us. He graciously accepted the small amount given as a token of our appreciation. The photo was used to make greeting cards and a calendar.

Satyan had received an assignment from a leading international magazine for a photo, the details of which I don’t recall. His conceptualisation of the shot included a small snake hanging from the branch of a tree. He had in his mind a snake of a particular size. He would not settle for something not matching the vision he had of the shot. Even though the shot had to wait until his pursuit with ‘snake Shyam’ was successful, the deadline was met.

My last visit to Satyan’s home was with a group of carol singers. He and his wife didn’t seem to mind our intrusion. Satyan’s demeanour was one of appreciation, humility and respectfulness, in keeping with the occasion. The students who were there from different parts of the country, were indeed blessed to hold the attention of a person of Satyan’s eminence.

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