As material and technological improvements replace old traditions in rural village life the cultural impact radiates throughout the community. In the encounters I have when traveling and photographing tribal life there are fleeting moments of connection. We know we are different but similar at the same time. The encounter can lead to a personal connection through photography.
It is this spontaneous connection I am looking for.
Change is coming and is inevitable and the unique traditions that separate our ancient cultures are vanishing. I hope to capture and make images that celebrate our differences and our common threads.
The group would arrive at a village and spread out to see who we could meet and what was the story here.
Village life is quiet in the heat of the day- much of the work is done early in the morning and at the end of the day, so people had time to invite us into
their homes for tea.We met school children everywhere and sometimes would go into the schools and talk to them about where we are from.
By the time we left a village we would have a trail of children and others following us back to the van. It was a good way to connect but often at odds with
creating an unposed photographic moment.
There was curiosity on both sides. The women dress in floating pink and orange chiffon saris no matter
what kind of work they are doing. They are the most colorful part of the harsh desert landscape.
Yet for me , it is often my split toned infrared images, stripped of color, that capture the feel of the land and the rhythm of the life here.
I am just back from a wonderful trip to Southern Rajasthan & Gujarat. In recent years I have been planning my own trips with well-known Photographer & Writer Mary Altier, her husband John Walker and my sister Ellen. After meeting Tewfic El-Sawy and following his blog, The Travel Photographer, I decided to join the Tribes of South Rajasthan & Kutch Photo~Expedition™. It was wonderful group of accomplished photographers, well traveled with great stories to tell on those long bus rides and each with their own unique style and vision. The focus of the trip was exploring the tribal cultures of the Rabaris, Garasias, Bhils, Wadha and the reclusive Jats who we came upon one day by the side of the road. I am always looking at our cross-cultural truths, the importance of family, community, and ritual, and the amazing diversity of its expression. What intrigues me is discovering how people live, as if in different millennia, yet co-existing at the same time. Minds set in different ages, walk the same dusty streets, drink the same water and live out their lives amidst the cows, which wander everywhere, and the riotous colorful confusion.
My work is interpretative in nature. I was shooting with a Canon 5D converted to Infrared by Lifepixel.com and a Canon 5D Mark II often using the Lensbaby. I have always been attracted to creating imagery using the invisible infrared light spectrum and using other special effects lenses and filters. It adds an element of mystery and surprise to creating the work, to the post production and then to its presentation.
I found it interesting to see what caught each photographer’s eye and how it could expand my way of seeing. Some people went straight into the villager’s personal space and caught and held their eyes. Some posed their subjects like models while others looked for color and pattern. Also interesting to see the different configurations of cameras and gear; from computers, backup devices (I used the Hyperdrive Colorspace UDMA) to camera bags.
I met some amazing people, friendships were formed and future travel companions made and I had experiences that I will not forget. Now the next stage begins with creating and shaping a cohesive body of work.
Imagery and more stories to come in the days ahead…