|The Mummified Lama|
When at home tea has always been served soaked in a teapot with the milk and sugar separate, but for me right from childhood it just never did it for me. What still works for me is "cooked tea" as my mom likes to call it. Every visit to the villages of my state give me the chance to down cups and cups of this refreshing tea. Yesterday was one such long day where a friend and I visited 7 families and enjoyed tea at each home. Every home has its own recipe for the brew, some add Ginger and Tulsi (my favorites ), others might add Cardamom and Cinnamon, but no matter where you go in UP you'll always be offered water and tea ( चाय पानी ) before anything else, just one of the reason I love my state!
My fingers have bled, I’m dark, but I became even darker, got numerous lectures, but at the end of it I did learn to fly a kite. It’s a skill everywhere on the planet I am sure, but from what I have seen here in India, it’s a little more demanding.
With no one at home who flew kites and friends too who were not helpful out here, all I had was a neighbor who’d fly his kites with skill that I have not witnessed anywhere else. Shankar bhaiya was the god of kite flying as far as I was concerned.
Like with all things in life, here too hard work paid off and at end of months of hard work, I was able to send my kites way off into the horizon and often loose them there too.
Kite flying taught me patience, it taught me to believe in myself- both of which have helped me tremendously with my photography. To be able to get a kite to rise when its gone so low that you can’t see it, when you can pick it when it looks like it has to, it must crash into the house or water tank not so far away it.
Its not just about getting some paper stuck onto a bamboo frame to catch the wind….. it’s about knowing how to keep yourself afloat at times when you feel there is nothing to carry you forward, to stay afloat when it looks like you’ll crash, its about learning that you CAN if you believe.
|Documenting CARE's interventions during the floods in Eastern UP - September 2009|
Some time in the September of 2009 I got a call from Amelia at CARE, "where are you? we need you to help us!". Over the next few minutes I was explained how I needed to help. Two days later we on the road to eastern UP to evaluate and document the work her colleagues were doing for the people who's lives were destroyed by the fury of the Ghaghara.
We saw a lot work and despair in area, some of which I try not remember too often, one image has however stuck in my head from the time I shot it four years ago. The contribution that the non governmental organizations to the development of our country is something that we need to salute and appreciate. This post is for all my friends who work with NGO's all over the country and specially in UP.
Thank you for doing what you do!
On a recent shoot in Siliguri, WB I was shooting a building when I noticed these rather interesting shadows across on the opposite wall. Based on my calculation I had about half an hour to finish the shot I was taking and move over to take this photograph or so I thought!
By the time I had finished the shot I was taking and moved over to take this photograph the sun had not set but a cloud had come in! So with no shadows forming the tea brewing on the ground floor seemed to be a compelling choice I had to fight hard to resist.
But I would not have it, I decided to wait and wait some more, looking at the cloud and telling it to move! (in cloud tongue) And it did, giving me about half a minute to take a couple of shots with even better shadows than the ones I had seen!
There’s always a reason for everything .... Destiny, Karma, Luck, Timing, what ever you’d like to call it .... its out there.
We often visit places like Old Delhi or Baneras and while looking thru the camera take photographs that feed on the visual vocabulary that we have accumulated over years of going through magazines, books and journals. As we’ve turned each page some where deep within, we’ve told ourselves that this is how we needed to shoot if we wanted to see our works out there. This leads to responses like, ‘all your photographs are great but I have seen them before, what’s new about them?’
Last evening at Nazar’s ka Adda, Nupur wanted to know if this was correct/right ? (and I, just in-case you’re wondering, was not talking about the way some one’s work was torn to shreds by the constructive criticism)
Here’s my take, most of which I shared with the participants last evening. Lets leave photography aside for a while and talk of some artists, artists that I hope most of us are familiar with: Picasso, Miro and Dali. Picasso became famous for Cubism and other work that I struggle to understand even to this day. Miro the surrealist master whose child like works of art are part of innumerable museums around the world. Dali my favorite, and in my opinion the greatest of all the masters is better known for his melting clocks and other equally evocative surrealist works. (One of my all time favorite photographs is one taken by Dali himself.)
When we study each of their works a little deeper and we find that Picasso too painted realist works, as did Dali and Miro in their initial years. Each one of them began with an all to familiar vocabulary and then went on to create something new.
YES it’s perfectly right to go ahead and take photographs that speak in an imagery that is all too familiar. Nothing wrong with it at all when you start! You go out when you are first beginning to master your camera and challenge yourself with this done-to-death imagery. Once you have mastered it you should get bored and then go ahead and look for a vocabulary of your own. The important thing here is moving on once you have conquered the first level, when the challenge ceases to exist.
You need to give your self time, its not like you’re going to go out there the first time you pick up your camera and come up with a whole new imagery. You need to let the thoughts in your head collect and then ferment till you’ll finally get a whole new imagery that will give both you and your audience a high!
Posted by André Jeanpierre Fanthome at 10:33 PM
|Rabri in Old Delhi|
|Fishing in the cold!|
The day was spent driving from one village to another, meeting folks, drinking tea and eating stuff at the local tea stalls. As the sun began to bid the day adieu we reached a village where a band of brothers and their aunt were fishing in the cold.
Taking breaks to shun the cold with their shivering bodies the boys were all smiles as they literally sieved the water to collect the tiny fish for a special dinner!
Its supposed to be colder tomorrow but the boys say they'll back and I am sure they will (with the same big smiles)!
Posted by André Jeanpierre Fanthome at 8:43 AM