Sadhu in Varanasi images - 56/1.2 & 35/1.4

Started 2 months ago | Discussions thread
yrc4 Forum Member • Posts: 64
Re: Sadhu in Varanasi images - 56/1.2 & 35/1.4

Babu K wrote:

yrc4 wrote:

I like them especially because they’re fully aware of your presence. BTW, the question of posed shots vs stealthy has haunted the practice of photography from the very day the first cameras were brought to India in the 19th century. In fact, the use of cameras by European officials and civilians first, then later by traveling native photographers who would go from village to village with their large format cameras and elaborate studio tents and props has had a deep influence on how people react to cameras all over India. Read a fine book called the History of Photography in India to get a sense of this. Also look at the amazing work of Raghubir of the great photographers of the country. Some of his work on Varanasi is on the internet.

With the advent of camera phones the Indian attitude to photography has changed enormously. Most Indians have mobiles, and they're all photographing like there's no tomorrow. I remember 10 or 20 years ago often being told off by watchmen not to photograph fun fairs or even some fancy new building, as they were suspecting I had some nefarious motive. Now it hardly matters. On the other hand, sometimes it's hard to do stealth photography, as the moment you point a camera in someone's direction, they will strike a happy pose, basically ruining the shot - even if they just want to be nice.

Sadhus, especially in places like Varanasi, are usually very eager to pose, afterwards often asking for 'baksheesh'. In Kathmandu, there are many fake sadhus, who just put on some outlandish dress to attract the attention of tourists and consequently a photo fee.

No doubt, the ubiquity of camera phones has led to a change....but its the striking a pose part that I was referring to.  In the little village that I grew up in, we kids looked forward to the annual arrival of the photographer with his props and tent: literally a portable studio.  In the early years, he used to come with a large format (8x10) camera and the only thing you could get were B&W prints. Later, he graduated to medium format film cameras; the unbeatable TLRs from Rollie. Everyone in the village, including my family put on their best clothes and lined up to get photographed.  In hindsight it seemed odd that we got excited, because my father was an avid hobbyist photographer and owned some pretty good cameras....two Rollie tlrs; a Mamiya medium format and a few rangefinders.....but he never took a single picture of any one in the village.

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