Last week I returned from an all too brief visit to Rajasthan – not exactly a rest but a definite change! It was exactly 15 years since my first visit to India back in Februray 2000 with my first ever camera -the entirely manual film camera (Nikon’s FM2) and where I got captivated by photography.
Rajasthan. Not without reason probably the most visited state in India by the outside world. Visually overwhelming – where people, ancient cities, street living, virgin countryside, colour, light, architecture, agriculture and cottage industries remain alive and kicking, greet you at every turn, and sit cheek by jowl with what seemed to me worsening poverty, general squalor and the resigned misery and endurance of those living with no hope of any change.
A place where being a Westerner you are as ever greeted with warmth and interest wherever you go and where pretty much anything you ask for is met with at least half a dozen locals ready to help you. A place which throws up a thousand puzzling questions as it does present you with people – everywhere. A place that rightly makes you question your own ethical standpoint, not to mention your very presence there as a tourist. A place that is irresistible for photographers.
I’m back, all too soon and to the realities of western life again. Reinvirgorated yes, and rightly just a little bit humbled – and hoping that a better perspective on life can be maintained despite being fully immersed again in shoots, computers, email, iphone, social networking – and the British winter!
This morning I finally managed to take a quick look at my photographs and this small moment and the memory of it jumped out at me – taken along an isolated country road not far from Jodpur, with me lying in the middle of it on my tummy. Heaven knows what folk like this make of us photographers but as I scrambled up and made a hasty gesture of respect and thanks and he and his faithful animals passed, I couldn’t help but feel a touch of self derison. I quite like the image though and maybe I now have a legitimate reason to return – to track him down and deliver him a print!
Will post some more images from my time in India soon.
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