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How do you make a blog sing? Simple, just ask John to add some photos!

Yes, that’s right.

Get John to take the photos and the blog not only sings but also dances in rhythm, just like tap dancing!!

So, now I want to share with you some of the behind-the-scenes people who keep our rhythm going. . .

nilgiri's home made chutneys

Having written a few cookbooks (two with my co-authors and one on my own), I have worked with a few photographers in my life.

All of them are very passionate and very creative but there is something about John that makes him stand out.

He is no ordinary photographer, just look at his credentials:

He studied at one of Sydney’s top academic schools (Sydney Grammar School), he then went on to study Psychology at Sydney Uni where he joined the army and then he did what so many young Aussies do, he went to London to “do something proper”.

So, after working as a ‘washing up hand’ for a firm he finally got a job in an accountancy firm and  . . .well, no offence to accountancy but let’s skip out that bit and fast forward 15 years when he decided to give up accounting/insolvency and embark on his lifelong passion: photography!!

So folks, John is no ordinary photographer!!

Sydney, December 2011


Hong Kong

West Bengal

I met John at a school game some three years ago when he was taking photographs for my son’s cricket match.

Meera introduced me to this tall man with a zoom lens hanging on his shoulder and said, “Ajoy, this is my new ‘guru’, John. He is one of the best photographers in Sydney and he is going to teach me……!”

I was happy to meet this guy but I thought to myself, “Ah, there goes $500 for an hour’s lesson!!!”

Anyway, my son’s game finishes and when we get sent the global email I see photos of Aniruddh and other cricket shots like I had never seen before!!

Nothing like beating your brother school!

There was life in them, they felt real and . . . they were singing!!

“Meera,” I said, “Do you think John would be interested in taking some photos at the restaurant for our website…?”

And thus began my association with John Slaytor.

This photographer is pure, no frills and he doesn’t come with any excess baggage (literally!).

One of the nilgiri's team - Gopi

Not one of the nilgiri's team!

He comes with just a camera and a lens!!

And above all there are no bl..dy egos!!!

So, for a job it’s just him and his camera and lens.

In fact, John travels on a push bike with a shoulder bag. Amazing!

John believes the challenge is in keeping everything (life/work) simple. With regard to photography he says that if you have ten lenses, there is no challenge and that one lens is enough if you know how to use it.

(Which also brought to mind one of my ustaads from years ago, when I was training in India, who always said that you don’t need ten knives to be a good chef and that one knife is enough if you know how to use it.)

My interaction with John has grown since I started blogging and so has my appreciation for his art, and the art of photography in general, mainly because he is very pro-active and willing to listen, a trend not often seen in this trade.

Finalist in 2011 National Portrait Prize, National Portrait Gallery, Canberra

John developed a funeral photography  business after deciding the world didn’t need yet another wedding photographer (though he has even photographed Indian wedding ceremonies). He says that at funerals everyone is so caring for a day and he can’t think of photographing anything finer than human tenderness.

Well, be that as it may, I also think that while he might prefer to be a funeral photographer he is also a bl…dy good food photographer. And alongside all this photography business, he‘s just a good fair dinkum Aussie with a heart as big as a tandoor, without the heat!

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Speaking of tandoors, one of John’s favourite meals when he comes to my restaurant is our thali. He says he loves the naan and the raitas and having a little taster of so many dishes alongside. I think it’s also the ease and seeming simplicity of these small dishes served on metal plates with a glass of beer that also appeals to this Aussie!

And here is the man I’ve been talking about!


If you want to try some of the recipes that we use in our thalis, please click on dal makhani, beans poriyal and zeera aloo.

Anah daata sukhi bhava!!

About Ajoy Joshi

i've been a chef for over three decades now! i trained in chennai and started off with the taj hotel group. i've owned nilgiri's indian restaurant in sydney for over 15 years. i'm on a mission to dispel the myth that indian food is no more than a 'curry in a hurry'! come with me as i try and educate. indian food is my passion (alongside cricket!) and i'm enjoying exploring the new social media and as well as having published cookery books i'm now moving into videos. simple and easy to follow that don't go on for hours like some Bollywood movies!

5 responses »

  1. Yes, really nice photos! I’d be interested to know what that one lens is that he uses for all these shots.

  2. Hi Alan

    glad you liked the photos. To answer your question, I have six lenses but if I had to choose one for all my work it would be the 105mm f2.8 macro Nikon lens.

    With so many images in the world today one of the ways images can be be memorable is by using an unconventional lens choice so, for example, I would take a wide angle lens to a soccer game and this would force me to anticipate where the action is likely to take place on the sideline. With cricket, this isn’t possible during the game but in the warm up it is.

  3. Thanks for the reply John… always interesting to know a photographer’s favourite lens…I thought you must have more than one 🙂

    By the way, I liked your entry in ‘Shoot the Chef’. I’m hoping Ajoy will take the idea on board and I might some day see him cycling past my place with some takeaways for me!

  4. Hi Alan

    The Shoot the Chef image was great fun – Ajoy, his wife, my wife and me put our heads together and between us came up with a terrific concept, which, by the way, was taken with a 24-70mm lens.

    On another subject, I am asked a lot about what camera/lens to buy and when I find out that people already have good cameras (any DSLR 6mp or above) I suggest they get a copy of Adobe Lightroom (about $150 in the US). This is brilliant software, far better than the software supplied by Nikon or Canon and will easily take anyone’s photography to a new level and cheap when you compare it to the cost of a camera.


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