The musician and master sitar player Ravi Shankar died yesterday at the age of 92. He was best known for collaborating with some of the greatest western musicians such as Beatle George Harrison, violinist Yehudi Menuhin, jazz saxophonist John Coltrane, composer Phillip Glass and others which helped introduce Indian music to the west.
I photographed Ravi Shankar in his home in north San Diego county some years ago. I remember him as a gentle, kind, soft-spoken man that was up for any idea I had for photographs. And unlike many of the musicians I’ve photographed he did not place any time constraints on me. I remember we chatted quite a bit as I set up my lights in the room where he played his sitar. The room was sparsely furnished, as a matter of fact I only remember the large indian floor cushion that he sat on while he played his sitar. His daughter Anoushka, who is also an accomplished sitar player, was there and I photographed them together.
During the course of our conversation he commented on his southern californian garden and I suggested at the end of our photo session I take a few pictures of him in his garden of which he seemed very proud. He was happy about that. I was thinking I was mostly going to photograph him out in his garden as a thank you to him for his time. As it turns out this was my favorite photograph of the day. Like many of my favorite photographs it’s very straight forward and true, no lights and a pose he took naturally without any suggestions from me.
Rest in peace Ravi Shankar.