Archive for May, 2010
My Hindi language tapes have just arrived in the mail. After an unforgettable week at the Kumbh Mela I’m planning on spending more time in North India where it’s more commonly spoken, so I’m going to get started on Lesson One in a few minutes.
Until now most of my 13 visits to India have been spent in South India. All of India is amazing but South India has a special place in my heart. I could go on and on as to why but here’s one reason…the food. Nothing on earth beats a South Indian breakfast. Idlis, Sambar, Pongal, Upma and Dosas are examples of what’s on the breakfast menu along with fresh Coconut, Tomato and Mint chutneys. Delicious!
Below is some of what I saw in January on the streets of South India. I like to make these photos as “close up and complicated” as possible, to quote the mantra given to me by a great photographer, teacher and friend Norman Mauskopf. I’m looking to include as much information as possible without cluttering the frame. That may mean using limited depth of field or just moving a step or two to position the key elements where I want them. Often I will set up the shot and then wait for someone to walk or drive into the frame, adding another dimension to the story. Street photography often reminds me of a juggling act. My thought process goes something like this… “Here comes a lady in a great sari that’s perfect for the background.” “Hurry, the main subject is leaving.” “Oh no, get that arm out of the way.” “A cow is walking thru…great.” It can be challenging but also extremely rewarding when all the elements come together. I’ve heard stories of photographers who spend an entire day in one spot waiting for their shot. Talk about patience and dedication.
To get multi layered photographs it helps to be in a place that’s filled with action. I’m interested in knowing…what are your favorite spots for street photography? Phir Milenge. (See you later.)
So far on this blog I’ve only shown photos taken during the six days I spent at the Kumbh Mela. I am still editing the other five weeks worth of photos from my last trip which I hope to post soon. I am VERY slow at editing! In the meantime for a change of pace here are some images previously taken in other parts of India.
It’s nice to be back. Since my last written blog post I’ve experienced a 7.2 earthquake, the death of my G5 computer and a laptop battery blowup among other things. I am currently in snowy Santa Fe, New Mexico (yes, it’s snowing in May.)
I want to share the story of how I got involved with photographing in India.
Just weeks before my first trip to India I swore it was the last place I’d ever go. Then I discovered the great spiritual teacher HWL Poonja, also known as Papaji and quickly decided I had to go to Lucknow, India to meet him. I rented a room and a bike and became part of the community. Once I had a taste of India I was hooked. Each year I returned. At first I went to be with Papaji and after his death I continued to visit for extended periods at the ashram of his teacher where I would climb a small mountain and meditate in caves.
You may wonder what any of this has to do with photography. The answer…not much. That’s the point. Before I was photographing India I was visiting India. It was an important part of my life. Even now I don’t go there to take photographs. I take photographs because I am there. The photos are the icing on the cake.
Eventually the beautiful light and bright colors of India drew me out of the caves and into the world and I had to find a way to share what I was seeing. The snapshots I was taking with my point and shoot didn’t do justice to what was in front of me so I was inspired to study photography. India gave me this gift.
We each have our own unique way of finding what interests us as photographers.
I recently attended a lecture given by Hungarian photographer Peter Korniss who has spent over 40 years photographing Eastern European peasant culture. I particularly like this Q and A from an interview with Peter on AlfaFotoLab.
Student: “How do you choose the topic of the series on which you are working? I am wondering for the duration of the series which could last even several decades.”
Peter Korniss: I choose my topics mostly by my interest. The work of a documentary photographer is very much influenced by his curiosity. If something really interests me then I feel an urge to dig deeper and deeper. This is the explanation to the second part of the question: The longer I work the more I learn about the subject. The more I learn about it the more is given to photograph. This is the way someone works for weeks, or months or for years on the same subject which – step by step – offers more and more for the photographer. That’s why you are not bored by your topic – on the contrary: you can be addicted.
I’m interested in knowing…
Do you have one particular subject you are passionate about photographing above all others?
If so, how did you discover it?