The journey of my life.


Jagdish Agarwal

“Regarded as the pioneering force behind stock photography in India, he single-handedly turned the industry around by empowering professionals, inspiring amateurs and modernising the way companies did business.”                                                                          —Sharmila Cirvante and Ranjabati Das, Journalists


A humble, poetic man, Jagdish Agarwal’s unassuming aura belies the strong ambition and nurturing spirit hidden beneath. Keeping steadfast to his bold goals, following his vision has enabled him to contribute enormously in India and globally to photography during his 50 years in the field.

Agarwal was born in Dinod, Haryana on July 26, 1948. He completed a photography course at Mumbai’s Indo American Society in 1969 under Professor P.K.M. Pillai and went on to win the first prize in the class and annual contest. The next year he won the Indian Railways’ All-India Photography Contest and then pursued further training with advanced photography courses at the School of Modern Photography in New York via post. His first photograph was published in 1971 in The Asia Magazine, Hong Kong and distributed weekly to ten Asian countries; it was the first of over 1000 photographs published locally and abroad. He was one of the few photographers in the country to have hundreds of photos published annually. It was in the 1970s that he first contributed to the stock photography business by sending his pictures to 30 libraries worldwide. His portfolio subjects ranged from wildlife in national parks and sanctuaries to remote landscapes and life in India.

Agarwal began the first professional picture agency in India, Dinodia Photo Library, in 1987 and is still growing it over 30 years later. With intricate planning, unwavering dedication, self-sacrifice, and embracing new technologies, he has established himself as the father of stock photography in India. With a unique perspective as a photographer himself and former stock photography contributor, Agarwal knew the nuances of the business well. While he improved access to photography to the end consumer, Agarwal also worked to sustain the livelihood of photographers by changing payment and ownership norms to their benefit. He created a platform for photographers to earn a living. Apart from his own team of about 100 photographers that clients can hire, he represents thousands of photographers including over 100 international photo libraries in India. Dinodia’s website shows over twenty million images and covers all subjects, from a special collection on Mahatma Gandhi to advertising, editorial and historical images. From his own photographers the collection tops half million. As a result, unknown Indian photographers are on the walls of offices, homes, hotels and restaurants and hopefully one day will be in Indian Embassies worldwide. In 1989 when the American Society of Media Photographers carried out an international survey, Dinodia made history as the only photo library listed between Rome and Hong Kong. In 1996, Dinodia registered a website domain –- making it the first India photo agency to do so. His foresight has kept Dinodia relevant even in this digital age.

Agarwal has received nearly 50 awards from across India as well as internationally from the USA, England, USSR and Japan. He has held 14 solo exhibitions in India and the USA as well as exhibited in prestigious galleries around the world with his signature black and white photographs – until he gave up commercial photography to earn the trust of his colleagues for his photo library. He has curated over 30 photography exhibitions.

Yet, Agarwal’s contribution to photography is not limited to his own portfolio and Dinodia’s photo library. He has nurtured and mentored countless photographers. He has devoted Saturday afternoons to discussions with them and organized motivational camps, weekly art walks, and an annual photography exhibition for upcoming artists. He has met and spoken with thousands of photographers, lectured in photography clubs and photography schools all over India to inspire other photographers. His artistic perspective and clear principles have guided photographers on how to better their art.

His love for the art is unmistakable. And his legacy, because of it, immense.