India 2015: People

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I’m not someone you’d call a people photographer, or a documentary photographer. At least I don’t think of myself that way, despite the images you see here. I’m too conscious of intruding and imposing myself on situations I have no business being in, and of transgressing invisible boundaries of personal space, all in the name of ‘getting the shot’. I believe in walking the fine line between respect and artistic licence while minimizing my impact on the scene as much as possible. Those are tough parameters to work with, especially when travelling in a foreign land, but when they work together, the results are very fulfilling. These moments of convergence, though rare, approximate the capture of Cartier-Bresson’s elusive ‘decisive moment’, a concept that resonates deeply for its implications of ephemerality in life and beauty.

Jivitputrika Festival, Varanasi Fire from the evening Aarti, Haridwar Water Cleansing, New Delhi

Fortunately for me and my many ‘rules’, India is an easy place for capturing her people, with the threads of ritual and devotion woven into the fabric of daily life. The visitor is spoilt for choice at this canvas of life’s vibrance, where every scene offers an intricate level of detail to absorb. There are the colors, the noise, the textures, the fragrances, the bustle of movement, the smiles, the stares…the list goes on. Every detail is a trigger for a host of questions about the people I see: Who is this person? What do they do? Where do they live? Where are they going? How do they feel about this foreigner pointing her camera at them?

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Some of my most memorable images were made on the bus ride from the airport to our hotel in Varanasi. We landed at midday (not ideal, light-wise), and cruising through the small towns en route to the ghats provided a glimpse into the environment and social dynamics of small-town India. There were many frames that did not make the cut, but waving back to the locals as we passed and seeing their biggest smiles made the process worth every click of the shutter. And it made for what was otherwise a very ordinary bus ride between the airport and the hotel.

Varanasi locals

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  • doris clevenger

    I am moved by the beauty and the tenderness of these images. They illustrate the dignity and commonality of humankind. And we are spared maudlin or sentimental views.

    A discerning eye took these pictures.ReplyCancel

  • […] the conclusion of my trip to India last October, I headed eastward to meet M and to spend two weeks in Bali, Indonesia, before returning home. In […]ReplyCancel

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