He has shot many powerful leaders who have walked the earth. And whenever he shoots, he adds to his reserve of pride. He captures his eminent targets with the knack of a professional who knows his job well. And with every shot, the powerful authority in the state honours him with a certificate of appreciation.
Meet Antony Anjee, the official honourary photographer of Raj Bhavan.
Perfecting the art of photography right from when he was nine years old, while assisting his father, who used be called by the authority to capture meeting and parties, Antony's first individual assignment was when he was 11!
"In 1969, I entered Raj Bhavan for the first time when I was nine. Those days, Gopal Swarup Pathak used to be the governor. At 11, I got to handle the camera alone when I covered a family event of Jeevraj Alva, who was then in his early twenties," he says.
Antony was appointed as the honourary photographer in 1972 when Mohan Lal Sukhadia was the governor.
Now, having spent 31 years as the 'capturing' man of Raj Bhavan, he is at peace and the palpable prosperity reflects on his face, even though money is not much. "We had a photo studio, Anjee & Sons at Vyalikaval, but it has been shut since the last one year. I make whatever little with the photos that Raj Bhavan uses. I also send photos to media houses for free," he says.
And he has squashed all qualms out of existence finding incredible solace in the ineluctable pride that he finds being in the environs of the official residence of the governor, built by Sir Mark Cubbon. "I had the privilege to meet many great people. These include Archbishop Desmond Tutu, Tony Blair, Mother Teresa, all presidents since Neelam Sanjiva Reddy, prime ministers including Indira Gandhi and Rajiv Gandhi, even Sonia Gandhi, as well as many dignitaries from other countries," he says.
Having started with the field camera, Antony now uses a Nikon. He has plans to launch a photo book and even hold an exhibition. "Many of my photos have been used in the books brought out by Raj Bhavan. In 1998, the book, Selected Speeches of Khurshed Alam Khan, was the first where my photos were used," he says.
Several of his photos have been used in subsequent books. In 1999, during V. S. Ramadevi's tenure, From Residency to Raj Bhavan was released. Heritage of Higher Learning in Karnataka was released in 2008 by Rameshwar Thakur, which also had many of his photos. A fourth book was released by Hansraj Bhardwaj titled Through the ages in 2012 and recently, Karnataka - A Cultural Odyssey was released by the governor and the first copy was presented to president Pranab Mukherjee.
"I also had a photo album released in 1999 which was released by Khurshed Alam Khan," he says.
Recollecting some memorable events, he states that his time during P Venkatasubbaiah's tenure as governor was indeed overwhelming. He says, "I had accompanied his excellency's convoy while travelling to his native, Kurnool. While he stayed back, I was permitted to use the governor's car while coming back. That was indeed a moment of immense pride."
He also recollects that during the tenure of Trilok Nath Chaturvedi, he used to accompany the governor in his helicopter and even in special flights. Though he has travelled extensively in the state, he does not own a passport. "I am still to see the world," he smiles and says. Antony has also worked for the Central Bureau of Investigation taking photos when they conduct raids. "I had accompanied them when they were surrounding the assassins of Rajiv Gandhi at Konanakunte," he says.
Having taken over the profession from his father, he is doubtful whether his only daughter will become the next 'capturing' lady of Raj Bhavan. "My daughter is currently pursuing her MBA. Right from my father and the 14-15 generations that followed, all are into photography. But I don't think my daughter will step into this line," he says.
Clicking round the clock, and ensuring that he does not miss even one single moment, the aura of power does not get into his head and humility exudes when he says, "After my work, when I get back home, I remind myself, 'you are Antony Anjee and you remain'."