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Lokvani Talks To Beloved Bay State Photographer, Ratan Singhvi

Chitra Parayath


  For hundreds of Bostonians Ratan’s face is a familiar one. A friendly smile and the ubiquitous camera slung low on his chest are trademarks of this remarkable artist.

A picture, it is said, is worth a thousand words, and every one of Mr.Singhvi’s photographs is worth that and more. His personal approach transforms the most mundane of images to creative works of art, such is the lyrical quality of his photography. He delights in illustrating stories, weaving a unique tapestry of images and memories for his subjects. Capturing a fleeting smile or a reluctant pout, he manages to freeze the essence of any situation converting it into a memorable moment forever.

Ratan Singhvi moved to the Boston area about 30 years ago. He is an Engineer employed by MBTA. Photography, he insists, is only a hobby, one that has become more dear to him than any other pursuit.

When we meet him at his home in Randolph, he shares with us some cherished and treasured albums of his photographs. He laughs and tells me that his house is full of pictures and albums.


Chitra Parayath : When did you take your first photograph?

  Ratan Singhvi : Let me tell you about my background. When I was a young boy growing up in Indore, India, I would see my father, take pictures. They always came out beautifully. I wanted to take photographs but you know how it is in India! A camera is a precious piece of equipment; one does not play with or let children play with it. I’ll always remember the first roll of film I developed. I was so happy when I saw the pictures; they were very clear, sharp and beautiful. It came naturally to me, I think. From that day on I was hooked on this interest. It is that certain something in a person’s way of looking at the world that helps in being a photographer. I think I got that ‘eye’ from my father.My father, Sardar Singhji Singhvi, incidentally, is a reputed phographer in Indore.

  CP : Did you have a struggle period or was it easy for you to get work?

RS : Yes, when I first came to this country about 30 years ago, I had to wait a while for a good job, as an engineer. No, I never sought out work as a photographer. Even today it is more about my own and my subject’s happiness than about money. I started taking pictures of the community, of events, 30 years ago. I did it without charging anything! Anyway, after many years my friends and well-wishers insisted that I start charging a small fee at least to cover my expenses.

CP : Is not photography a very expensive hobby? Do you develop the film here at home?

RS : Yes, it is an expensive hobby. Even though the film rolls themselves are not that expensive, developing them can be. I do not develop them at home, I get them developed professionally. I do not want my hobby to become a cumbersome job! I want to enjoy this pastime.

  CP : Do you ever feel that you are in the wrong profession?

RS : No, I do not. I do not want photography to be my full time profession. This is what I do for fun!


  CP : Which has been your most satisfying assignment?

RS : That is hard to say. I enjoy all my assignments. I do Weddings, Graduations, Arangetrams, Birthdays, any event that merits a celebration. My weekends tend to be filled with invitations! But I love to meet people and to have them come up to me, shake my hand and say “ Ratanji, we loved the pictures you took”.That is the ultimate satisfaction for me. The goodwill and love of the community are greater than anything else for me.

  CP : Do you have a lot of competition in this line of work?

RS : Our community has grown so much, so fast that there is room for everyone today. I do have some competition but I can say with pride and confidence that once people see or sample my work, they come back to me. And I also want to use this opportunity to thank all my patrons.

CP : Can people just call you up and ask for your services?

RS : Yes, absolutely. Recently, a young lady holding a baby came up to me. She said that pictures I had taken of her, as a young child were so good that she wanted me to take pictures of her child too. See, that is the kind of response that I seek.

CP : What about the celebrities that you shoot pictures of? of?

RS : They are all very happy when they see the results. All of them have been very friendly and supportive.  Recently I met Hrithik Roshan, his wife Suzanne, Kareena Kapur, the whole troupe. I found that they are all very social and likeable.

CP : Who is your favorite subject among these visiting celebrities?

RS : These days, I think Kareena Kapoor is the most photogenic. Shweta Shetty, Madhuri, Gracie Singh, Aftab also come to mind. All my subjects are my favorites. You can look at these pictures in my album and see that.

CP : What do you think about digital photography?

RS : It is wonderful but I prefer the conventional method.

CP : What about your cameras?

RS : I own three Canons, my constant companions.( Laughs)

CP : Can you give the readers of Lokvani some tips on how to take good photos?

RS : The main tip is…take your time. I have to emphasize that. I do not mean take an hour or two hours for a shot but just 10- 5 seconds will do. Compose the shot. Is the distance adequate, how is the light, the lens aperture? Is the subject at ease? These little steps will ensure a superior quality shot.

CP : What is your advice to people who want to take up photography as a hobby?

RS : Love it with your heart. As with any other hobby or pastime, keep at it till you get it right. Do not be disappointed if some pictures do not come out well. With time and experience they will get better. If you are an amateur photographer or even if it’s only a hobby, patience is the key to success.

CP : Finally, are any of your children interested in taking this up as a profession?

RS : (Laughs) I don’t think so. My younger son, an engineer has the eye to become a good photographer, maybe some day….

Mr. Ratan Singhvi would be happy to talk to you about making your special day even more special with his photographic services. Contact Mr. Singhvi at 781 963 1751.

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Kareena Kapoor and Ratan Singhvi

At a recent concert

Asha Bhonsle in action

A Bharathanatyam Concert

Ecstatic fans at a recent concert

Until death do they part

Shah Rukh Khan and Ratan Singhvi

Shilpa Shetty

A Bharathanatyam concert

Ratan Singhvi and Gracie Singh

Preity Zinta, horsing around.

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