I am John Merrell, a Los Angeles, CA / Southern California based photographer who specializes in Indian Classical Dance / Arangetram / Rangapravesh photography.

Often, I get asked about how I came into photographing Indian Classical Dancers. To answer that question, I was introduced to Indian Classical dance - specifically Odissi - in the late 90's through a Pacific Northwest dance teacher - Dr. Ratna Roy. Dr. Roy was also my professor and through a South Asian Studies course I learned the basics of Odissi.

During this time, Dr. Roy introduced me to a group of musicians and dancers from Orissa who were touring the USA - the late Padmashree Guruji Gangadhar Pradhan and Smt Guruji Aruna Mohanty from the Odissi Dance Academy (ODA). After meeting Ganga sir I was interested in learning Odissi Pakuaj (Mardal). I travelled to Bhubaneswar, Orissa the following year and learned from the great master musician Guruji Dhaneswar Swain and survived a category 5 cyclone.

When I moved to Los Angeles I picked up photography. Around this time, artists I knew from the Odissi Dance Academy were touring the US and I met Guru Nandita Behera, who runs Odissi Dance Circle in Artesia. This was my first introduction to the Indian Classical Arts scene in Southern California.

What's In My Bag? *

I shoot with Canon cameras and mostly Canon lenses. Some of the gear I use: