Blog

Sharing my experiences of this beautiful world that we live in through photography. And some geeky tech photo stuff.

How to Photograph a Monk on the street

December 24, 2013  -  Monks & Priests, People, Photography Tips

sadhu-india-monk-portrait

This photo was taken a few years ago. I was walking along one of the smaller streets in Jaipur in Rajasthan (India) to get away from the hectic traffic when I noticed this sadhu sitting on the side of the street. As soon as I saw him I knew I had to photograph him.

I don’t want to be judgmental but as I got closer to him I got the feeling that he was not really a sadhu (monk) but rather someone who dressed up as one in order to receive alms or have photographers like me take photos of him.

Most of the time I ask when I photograph people. So, I went up to him and asked if I could take a portrait of him. Sure enough he very readily obliged but said I needed to leave a donation. Fair enough. He needs to earn a living and I want his photo. A fair trade. I was not there to find out if he was a really sadhu or not. Just wanted his photo. So, since I was paying for this opportunity I got him to pose up against a wall, adjusted my camera to the right settings then took this photo.

Photo Tips:
Here’s a photography tip on photographing a monk on the street. If you are traveling and come across such an opportunity don’t let it go. What little money he asked for was nothing in comparison to the photo that I have enjoyed looking at many times. Most people get offended when the subject requests money. I personally think it is a fair trade. I asked them they did not ask me.

Also, since you are paying for the photo, take your time to get your camera settings right, right angle, lighting etc so that you get the shot that you want.

Tagged with: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Portraits of Sadhus, holy men of the Kumbh Mela

February 2, 2013  -  Festivals, Monks & Priests

As I get ready to leave for the Kumbh Mela festival later tonight I felt inspired to share portraits of some sadhus I had photographed over the years. Sadhus, Hindu holy men, are a big part of the Kumbh Mela festival. Thousands come out of seclusion to bathe in the confluence of the holy Ganges and Yamuna rivers in the town of Allahabad in northern India. I’m eager to photograph as much as I am to pilgrimage to this sacred event.

sadhu-kumbh-mela-festival

sadhu-kumbh-mela-trident

A sadhu smears ash all over his body and face under the evening sun.

A sadhu smears ash all over his body and face under the evening sun.

monks-kumbh-mela-festival

Tagged with: , , , , , , , , , ,

Feeding the Masses at the Kumbh Mela (Part 1)

January 23, 2013  -  Festivals

One of the things I was curious about is how do you feed that many people. There were certainly noticeable groups at the Kumbha Mela – to name a few: Sadhus, wealthy pilgrims, poorer pilgrims, beggars, foreigners and the rest of the lot. The wealthy pilgrims and foreigners occupied the hotels in Haridwar and the surrounding area, even as far as Rishikesh (24kms north of Haridwar). The restaurant hotels were always full and fed these two groups heartily.

One of thousands of food stalls at the Kumbh Mela festival

One of thousands of food stalls at the Kumbh Mela festival

The Sadhus that lived in the camps could be divided into two groups. Reclusive monks that lived on their own and monks that had devotees to care for them. The ones that had devotees were well looked after. Their devotees cooked and fed their spiritual teachers well and anyone that came within the precincts of their tents. They were certainly generous with food and no one left hungry. The only problem, if you could call it that, is that after visiting a couple of tents one is pretty much stuffed and it then becomes a challenge to decline a meal at the next tent. “Another chai? I’ve had four already! But I’ll take that samosa!”

The devotees certainly worked hard at preparing the meals. All the meals were cooked outdoors over wood fires in gigantic pots with oars, yes oars, as ladles to stir the brewing curries. It was difficult to escape the aroma that filled the air by these temporary kitchens and it wasn’t long before it conjured up an appetite among those that walked by. For those of us that cook, we know what comes after cooking…cleaning! I have never seen so many dirty pots, pans and dishes in my life. Outside one large tent, a courageous old lady, draped in a sari, squatted in front of tap of running water with a coconut husk in one hand and a pot in another. Scrub, scrub, scrub. I dreaded to think how long it would take this lady to get it all cleaned and prayed she’d get some help soon. Though sadly, I knew inside of me, it would all be left to her. I watched her for a while as she quietly and determinedly cleaned one pot after another without an expression of despair on her face.

Washing pots after cooking for thousands is no easy task.

Washing pots after cooking for thousands is no easy task.

As for the Sadhus that lived by themselves I am not sure where they got their meals. Every time I passed their tents it was not during meal time so it remains a mystery to me whether they prepared their own meals or it was given by pilgrims.

Tagged with: , , , , ,

Monk with really long hair

January 22, 2013  -  Festivals, Monks & Priests

Ok, I admit I could have come up with a more creative blog post title but at least it gets straight to the point.

At the Kumbha Mela festival that I attended in Haridwar in 2010 I met a monk with really long hair. He invited me to join him and his devotees around a smoldering log that they were sitting around. After being there for a little while he decided to unwrap his turban. Well, it was not really a turban but a big piece of cloth which seemed to be holding a lot of hair on his head.

He slowly unwrapped the cloth and gently extended his matted hair which extended and extended. It was easily over 6 feet long and beautifully matted over many, many years. He was very proud of it and wanted me to photograph this. I couldn’t really tell where he was from but he looked like he was from either Nepal or Tibet. One of many wonderful experiences that I had at the Kumbha Mela festival.

Note our 2013 Kumbha Mela tour and journey across north India is from the 4th of February to the 16th.

Tagged with: , , , ,

Welcome to my photography blog!

January 10, 2013  -  News

Welcome to my photography blog. This is my first of many posts to come. For two or three years now I’ve blogging my photos on my other website, www.dandapani.org, but from now will post all my travel photos here along with tips, travel anecdotes and more.

Please use the link above to subscribe to the blog and you will receive postings via email directly into your inbox.

Tagged with: