The smoke is clearing

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?

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