Light & Life Academy: A Modern Gurukul Evoking the Inner Vision in Photography

While Photography is a hobby for many, it has also been motivating a lot of serious seekers who want to delve deep into the subject understand its intricacies and pursue the art and science of photography as a fulltime profession or activity. If one searches for a premier institute that offers courses in professional photography one will find that unlike a conventional college, Light & Life Academy(LLA) imparts state of the art learning in a gurukul like setting, where the Faculty handhold the students through the course. LLA believes that developing intuition is the most effective method to explore photography. Working on this concept it is imparting indepth knowledge in the art & science of photography to evoke each individual’s unique & inner vision.

With the firm belief that students of photography should understand Light and Life equally, the curriculum and the various activities that students participate in during the period of study ensure that the students are industry-ready when they graduate from the Academy. Iqbal Mohamed (Founder, LLA) is an eminent alumnus of Brooks Institute of Photography (California) and an established professional photographer with over three decades of experience in the industry. Alongside his professional excellence, projects commemorating the Thanjavur Temple, UNESCO’s World Heritage project of 'The Nilgiris Mountain Railway' and 'Chola Architecture’ are part of his excellent folio of works till date. Being placed among the most recognized luminaries of India, his sheer desire to share the joy of photography with the world fuelled the launch of his dream project, the LLA.

LLA is one of the first photography academies in the country, founded by the duo Iqbal & Anuradha Iqbal with an initial support from Kodak India & Eastman Kodak (US)in 2001. Since then it has been offering professional courses in photography to enthusiastic students. The courses that are currently being offered at the campus at Ooty are the PG Diploma Programme in Professional Photography and Diploma in Travel & Nature Photography courses. Furthermore, utilizing the digital platform, LLA launched in 2017, the first online photography training programme (LLAONLINE) delivered in nine Indian languages including English.

LLA follows an open admission policy where the applicants have to be at least 20 years old with 15 years of formal education and a degree in any subject. Exceptions might be considered for those having work experience or life learning experiences, with a minimum of 12 years of formal education. One must know how to handle a DSLR camera. The admission process takes place in three steps; review of your portfolio of 20 best images uploaded online with your application, followed by Skype interaction with the faculty, and a personal interview at the academy. In the final round, the applicant will require to use his/her DSLR camera for an on-campus test shoot. The admission status is announced soon after the interview.

Actively Engaging the Students
The academy is not affiliated to any centralized Board or University. This allows LLA to become a key differentiator in terms of curriculum, facilities and the pedagogy.
The curriculum, exclusively designed by Iqbal, is a synergy of well structured subject matter and free-willed study. As a natural process, knowledge about new technology automatically gets into the curriculum. Furthermore, LLA engages the students in active interactions with the alumni and industry peers to stay updated on trends, techniques and the work produced by fellow photographers around the globe.

Imparting in-depth knowledge in the art & science of photography to evoke each individual’s unique & inner vision in creating the art of excellence

The courses are delivered concurrently with corridor conversations, field trips, and interactions with people from different streams of society via cultural and social service activities.Iqbal indeed plays an instrumental role in shaping the students with his knowledge and vision while keeping them in splits with his sense of humor. The yearly intake is kept at a maximum of 40 students per course whereby LLA maintains a healthy 1:3 student to faculty ratio. It believes that the students are artists and the masters of their own freedom in exhibiting creativity, independence and entrepreneurship skills. On this ground, it stands high on credibility and its students have been achieving tremendous success in the real world, making it unique and also one of the most recognized institutions in the industry.

“Every student passing out from LLA becomes a part of the LLA family and is always welcome to visit the academy to meet me and the others here to recharge batteries,” states Iqbal. Going an extra mile, the academy launched an online platform for alumni so that the students can interact and reach out to each other and with the Academy. This will help them explore new frontiers and share ideas, trends, techniques and new developments in the field of photography and also help them professionally.

The LLA Campus A window to the sights and sounds of Nature
The three-acre facility, perched at a height of 7000 feet above sea level is set amidst the breathtaking landscape of the Ketti Valley near Ooty in Tamil Nadu. The pristine environment and the setting naturally inspires the creative instincts in the student. The 60,000 square feet campus, custom designed by one of India’s most celebrated architects Mr. Jaisim, is well equipped with modern teaching facilities, studios including a 4,500 square feet automobile studio, auditorium, games rooms, equipment room, Props room, student hangout spaces, dining hall, library and so on.

“At LLA, we strive to inculcate the importance of being a good human first,” states Anuradha. This non-profit education trust strongly encourages the students to partake in social outreach activities for welfare of people in the Nilgiris from teaching government school children the importance of arts and photography, to public awareness campaigns. The founders share, “Our aim is to ensure that we reach quality photography education by harnessing the strength of technology and the Internet for larger social good. We will continue to celebrate this rich diversity by inviting people across the country to learn the universal language of photography”.

Key Management
Iqbal Mohamed, Founder
A former history and political science graduate, recognized as one of the top professional photographers in India and author of the book ‘Portrait & Function Photography’ published in eight Indian languages besides English, in the year 1999.

Anuradha Iqbal, Founder
A commerce graduate from Mumbai University and marketing and advertising professional having over a decade of experience in handling national/multinational accounts. At present, at the helm of planning and operations at LLA.

PG Diploma Programme in Professional Photography and Diploma in Travel & Nature Photography. Also, an online photography training programme (LLAONLINE)delivered in nine Indian languages including English.