A blog about journeying through life creatively

In Pondicherry, we stumbled upon Kasha, from Kasha Ki Aasha restaurant. She encouraged us to see a street art Photography exhibition by Varun Gupta. Varun had produced a series of portraits at the Kumbh Mela, by setting up makeshift photo booths. He invited people to pose and photographed each one twice – each got a free polaroid print while he took another for himself. Some of the results had been printed up on large scale black and white street posters, and were pasted on the walls in the style of Indian cinema posters. The effect was super. It brought to mind all sorts of questions about posing, self-consciousness, posture, identity and so forth. It produced honest images of some of the fantastic Kumbh Mela characters, both pilgrims and sight seers.

Having been attempting some street portraiture myself, I struck up a conversation with Varun Gupta about the ethics of street photography… when, where and how is it appropriate to capture images of strangers – possibly for exhibit. he had some great insights to share, about the importance of some kind of relationship developing between the photographer and the subject, to legitimise the image. And almost immediately, our theory was put into practice when two wandering mendicants bowled up and demanded I give them some money for lunch. We got some great photos. They got a great lunch.

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Mattancherry in Kochi, Kerala, has many mysterious doorways.
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I photographed this pilgrim in Madurai, just as he rounded the corner to a full view of the southern gateway of Sri Meenakshi temple. He was gone before I mustered up the courage to go and ask him what he thought, but it looks like he was suitably impressed by the astonishing sculptures on the ancient gateway.

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Faces, Kerala.

It is difficult to overcome the awkwardness of shooting portraits of strangers. In Cochin, people mostly seem very happy with modelling. Here’s a dozen of my favourites so far…

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Posting on Walls

Traipsing through the streets of Fort Cochin, photographing street art… I quickly realised that you don’t need to be a biennale artist to make a wall look interesting. Many walls in Fort Cochin have had hundreds of years to develop a bit of character. And many much younger walls show the interventions of inadvertent artists, posters of bills, mud, moss, grime and goats. The results can seem very expressionist.

Here’s some samples:

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Further to my last post… still finding leftovers in the streets of Cochin.

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It’s a pity that I missed the Kochi-Muziris Biennale. But perhaps I’m happier to be wandering the monsoon-sodden streets of off-season Fort Cochin, without the throngs of tourists, with time to relax and wait for the rain to stop. And once my eyes had adjusted to what they were seeing, I began to see signs and remnants of the biennale everywhere. I like what the mist and the mud and the moss and monsoon have done to the remaining public artworks. Here’s a few glimpses:

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