South India specialist and keen photographer, Lucinda Paxton, shares three of her favourite photographs of people from her travels around India.
Hindus Only, Madurai
“I shot this in one of my favourite places in India — the brilliant, bonkers, Meenakshi temple in Madurai. Complete with resident elephant, market and sprawling kitchens, the temple is a place for Sadhus, pilgrims, street wallahs and courting couples to meet, pray and escape the hot South India sun. A huge cross-section of people come to this temple and spending a day under the towering gopurams (ornate towers) provides a fantastic insight into Indian customs.
Away from the crowds, this image captures a rare moment of calm. A shaft of light falls on the subject’s face, mirroring the colour of the door, while the 'Hindus only' sign and her sari give a distinct sense of place.”
Street Light, Karaikudi
“Karaikudi is a village deep in the heart of the Chettinad region of Tamil Nadu. One evening I found myself exploring the back alleys behind my hotel in the fading light. The woman on the left looked up suddenly, her attention caught by a light switched on overhead. I was so pleased to capture this moment; her striking expression, the happy faces all around, and the nature of the light giving an almost stage-like quality to the composition. “
(The Canon 5D MkII I used on this trip performs brilliantly in low light conditions and this light quickly became my favourite to shoot in. A flash was not necessary due to a lens that can be opened up to an unusually large aperture of f1.2. This image would have been impossible to capture otherwise and the series is my favourite of the trip.)
Old Man, Southern India
“Invited into the home of this wonderful 90-year-old man, grandfather of my driver on my latest South Indian adventure, I was struck by his wonderfully calm and peaceful demeanour. Not sharing a single word of a common language, we listened to his nephew singing a Hindu ‘Bhajan’ (hymn), probably the most moving experience of my trip. On leaving he took both my hands in his and smiled warmly.
(The necessary proximity of photographer to subject that comes with using a fixed 50mm lens reflects the immediacy and intimacy of this moment.)“
From mighty Himalayan peaks to paradise islands, from teeming colourful cities to sleepy hill stations, the Indian subcontinent has diversity like no other place on Earth.
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