Because I am attracted to diversity and I’m very curious about world cultures, one of my favourite genres of photography is ethnic portraiture. I came across some good photographic opportunities back in the summer, when I was in Morocco on a two week vacation: intense colors, traditional outfits, huge markets with their busy environments litterally blew me away. However for some reasons, including my shy attittude at that particular time and the scarce tendency of locals to wanting to be photographed, I was left frustrated and came back home with very few photos of people, most of which kind of ‘stolen’.
When I was preparing psychologically for my trip to India, as part of the round the world trip, I fantasized a lot about photographing women in sarees against coloured walls, capturing the unique smile of Indian children and perhaps taking some good shots of men in turbans with picturesque moustache styles. Our first stop in India was Delhi and we didn’t do much in there, so we really just photographed the red fort and then left. With so many people trying to rip you off I just couldn’t see myself asking people if I could take a picture of them.
The story changed when we explored Jodhpur. On our first sightseeing walk we decided to visit the fort. This was in the morning. We arrived there and came across groups of local people going into a Hindu temple. It was the day after Diwali and many people were there. At first a little hesitant, we were invited to come into the temple by a child. We took our shoes off and once we got in, people started looking at us with curiosity. It wasn’t long before a few children, including the one who invited us in, approached us and asked us to take a picture of them. The ice was finally broken. We approached a woman in her coloured saree and she was happy to have her picture taken. When I prepared my camera to photograph her, other two women came close to her – they wanted to be photographed too.
Once we left the temple we were approached by other people, including children. What I couldn’t imagine is that we weren’t the only ones interested in ethinc portraits. A local guy approximately my age came to me and said, very politely: ‘my wife would like to take a picture with your wife. She is very excited at the idea”. So off we went. Once the ice was broken on the other side too, other people came to ask for a picture with us, making us feel like celebrities. We also spotted some people taking pictures of us sneakily with their mobile phones. It was funny to see how that sort of cross-cultural curiosity works on a two-step flow, here more than in other places I’ve been to.
In the afternoon we went out on another walk, planning to go to the clock tower, another popular sight in the city. However, on our way to the clock tower we came across another group of children who hijacked us into another temple and as if they knew we were looking for photographic opportunities, they showed us around and recommended potentially interesting subjects. In the temple we also met and got to chat with other very nice people.
Overall a very nice experience. The gallery I’m sharing here features some of the shots we took during what I can define our first real photography experience in India.
I hope you enjoy it.