If you have ever walked through an Indian town with a camera you’ll be aware that far from shying away from the camera people do their utmost to have their photo taken. They call out, whistle and stop right in front of you, blocking your path as they move indicate the camera with their eyebrows. This used to REALLY bother me. In the days of film, every frame counted and the last thing I wanted to do was ‘waste’ one on some absolute stranger who more often then not didn’t have an interesting, wizened or turbaned head. So I would ignore them or try to trick them by advancing the camera roll but not taking the picture. I was your typical foreign jerk.
In 2007 I visited Allahabad where I spent much of my youth. As usual I got accosted with shouts of ‘hey you, take my picture’ whenever I left the hotel with the cameras around my neck. Thankfully some small inner voice whispered, “this could be a really interesting project. Why not take a picture every time you’re asked?”
And so I did. And I continue to this day. No more anxiety, no more glowering. No more lose lose. Smiles all around. The picture above is of Mohammad Amin and Mohammad Karim, brothers enjoying a mid-morning cup of chai in Chowk bazaar in Allahabad.
Nagand, was standing on the side of a very busy road in a big bazaar in Allahabad, enjoying a smoke and a cup of tea.