Every picture tells only PART of a story

Every picture tells only part of a story.  I want to share with you some of the story behind this portrait, which I am very fond of.

Last winter I spent a month in Kerala, India attending Theyyam performances (click on the word Theyyam for more information.)

As is often the case with travel and photography it was a bit of a treasure hunt…Doing research, making contacts, following leads, driving long distances, often getting lost. Sometimes I would travel for an hour or two and show up at a Temple only to be told I was a day early, it hadn’t started yet. Of course I preferred hearing that over another common line “You’re a day late, it ended yesterday!” In most cases I was allowed to photograph, but sometimes not.

I attended this particular Theyyam for two evenings. The dressing area was in total darkness the first night but on the second night they strung up a light fixture, which made it possible for me to take some portraits. I knew I had taken some good shots of this particular Theyyam performer, Vipin so I offered to share them with him via email. The following day I sent some photos to Vipin as promised, but the email was returned. Vipin’s friend had given me the wrong address. I was very disappointed that he’d never receive his photos and would never know I had tried sending them to him. That evening I went to a Theyyam in a different town farther away. It turned out to be one of the “You’re a day early, it hasn’t started yet. Come back tomorrow” situations. I was in the middle of nowhere so at that point I assumed the night was a bust. On the way back to my room the driver got lost and much to my amazement we wound up passing thru the town where I had been shooting the previous two nights and THAT Theyyam was still in progress. I never expected to see Vipin again but I was “accidentally” given a second chance to get his correct email address not to mention another evening to photograph him!

A couple of weeks later I was attending a Theyyam and a man approached me, saying he’d seen me photographing at another Theyyam. I had this photo of Vipin on my iPhone and for some unknown reason showed it to the man. He looked at me with a huge smile and told me Vipin was his son!

I always say the photograph is the icing on the cake…the experiences I had with Vipin and his father are great examples of what I consider to be “the cake.” Rich moments that come from enjoying life with a camera.
What are your favorite stories about photographs you have taken? If you’d like to share them please post below.

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  1. #1 by Diana ( Jayashri ) Fairclough on November 21, 2012 - 7:07 AM

    Magnificent, Vandana! Thanks so much for sharing the photo and story, and you are right about the human connections behind the photos. A and I just returned from China and had similar experiences. There is always a special story behind a good photo. XO Jayashri

    Like

    • #2 by cathyscholl on November 23, 2012 - 7:00 PM

      Thank you Jayashri! I hope you had many memorable moments in China.
      Let’s catch up asap.

      Like

  2. #3 by franck houdin on November 21, 2012 - 8:26 AM

    thank u cathy for sharing your art…a bientot et merci…happy turkey…

    Like

    • #4 by cathyscholl on November 23, 2012 - 7:02 PM

      Thank you Franck. Hope you had a great Thanksgiving.

      Like

  3. #5 by Sunanda Maldonado on November 21, 2012 - 10:08 AM

    I loved reading about your synchronistic experiences: the magic of India! I think we are able to operate on some different level when we are there; magic happens all the time. I don’t have any ‘photo’ experiences to relate but my whole being is twanging, goosebump time! This portrait is just awesome. I have never seen Theyyam in a temple setting, only at a tourist event, but even then I thought there was something very special about it. My special temple festival in Kerala has always been the little Bhadrakali temple festival in Kovalam – yes, touristy Kovalam – which I have been privileged to be a part of for many years. There are some photos – though they’re nowhere near as awesome as yours – on my FB profile. Do take a look if you have time.

    Like

    • #6 by cathyscholl on November 23, 2012 - 7:17 PM

      Yes Sunanda, the magic of India. You are right, it is somehow easier to just go with the flow there. So happy you like the portrait and that you have your own magic place.

      Like

  4. #7 by Kai on November 23, 2012 - 2:16 AM

    Great portrait! Years ago watched a Theyyam performance in Kerala. It appeared and felt as though the dancers completely embody each movement with presence. I am blogging from Tiruvannamalai in South India at smallpebbles.com. Nice to see your photos….in peace….kai

    Like

  5. #8 by cathyscholl on November 23, 2012 - 7:20 PM

    Hi Kai! Thanks for commenting. Great that you were able to attend a Theyyam performance and enjoyed it.
    Also great that you are blogging from Tiru! You have a very nice blog. I won’t be seeing you this winter as I will be in North India only…including 5 weeks at the Kumbh Mela. There will be upcoming blog posts about it I am sure! Wish you all the best.

    Like

  6. #9 by ezee123 on July 26, 2013 - 8:41 PM

    A lovely tale of your travels and your travails in Kerala. And incidentally I came to know you only because you were roaming in that state where you bumped into another photographer Dwiraj who was there to shoot Theyyam as well.
    It sure is a small world.
    The portrait is wonderful. Would love to see more of the stories from Kerala

    Like

  7. #10 by cathyscholl on August 12, 2013 - 10:32 AM

    Thanks very much for commenting Anoop. It was also good to know of you thru Dwiraj. I will be posting more from Kerala ASAP. Stay tuned!

    Like

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