Rural Photography In India – A Less Explored Genre
“India does not live in its towns but in its villages” – Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi
I consider myself unfortunate that I have not been able to travel through much of the real India. The soul of India is in her villages, mountains, rivers, forests, seas and the in the people who live in these places. It would take more than a lifetime to understand the cultural, demographic and geographic nuances of India.
Coming to our core area of interest which is Photography; it seems to me that most of the photographers are keen on taking pictures of Urban India, Wildlife, Tourist Attractions or Specific Cultural Events. Not very often do we see images of the people who live in our villages, their culture, local festivals and their daily way of life. It seems we are missing out on an ocean of photographic opportunities to capture the true essence of India. My limited travels have taken me to few villages where I had the opportunity to photograph the village folk. The key to village photography is to try and understand their way of life. Mingle with them and take part in some of the activities they do in their daily life and they will open up myriad opportunities for you to get some very good pictures. Rural photography encompasses areas like portraiture, candids, daily activities like farming or tending to animals, local cultural events and local sports amongst others.
A lot of people tend to think that Rural Photography involves just taking pictures old men and women with creases on their faces that depict a hard life. Nothing could be farther from the truth. To me, the crux of rural photography is its ability to stitch together a story that depicts the reality of their lives. As a photographer, if you can document even a small part of their life for them and share it with them; trust me – you’ve earned yourself a friend who will remember you for a long time to come.
We’ve all heard of Fashion Photographers, Street Photographers, Wedding Photographers, Landscape Photographers etc. but how many of us have come across the term Rural Photographer? Not many, if any, I’m sure. Perhaps it’s time to start exploring this genre more seriously. It certainly opens up a world of possibilities! Here are a few moments that have been captured by Yours Truly and by my friend and mentor Shannon Heng.
A Lovely Smile; Photo Credit: Shannon Heng
At the time of taking the picture, this lady was nine months pregnant and yet so full of energy and happiness. She delivered a baby boy just a few days after we left the village.
Image 1: Morning Errands. Image 2: Milk Run; Photo Credit: Shannon Heng
In the first image, Morning Errand, the elder sister had gone to buy curd and met up with her younger sibling on the way back. They were very happy to have their picture taken. In the second picture, this gentleman was on his way to sell milk in the morning and was kind enough to stop and pose for this photograph.
The Potter Photo Credit: Ashish Chalapuram
This gentleman is from a family of Potters. He makes approximately 50 pots in a day. He was gracious enough to allow us to photograph himself and his family in their house.
What Lies Yonder? Photo Credit: Ashish Chalapuram
This little girl was standing at the window of her house and looking towards the skies. She gave me a feeling she was trying to visualize what the world would be like beyond her village. Her little brother was standing behind her and looking at me curiously.
Rural Wrestling Competition Photo Credit: Ashish Chalapuram
The Rural Wrestling Competitions attract wrestlers from near and far villages. Winning these competitions is a matter of great pride for these wrestlers and the villages they represent. Most, if not all, of the wrestlers who have done India proud by winning medals in International Competitions have found their way up by competing in local competitions such as these.
These moments are just a glimpse of the countless stories that are out there waiting to be told. Let’s take a step forward and in our own small way try to capture, with images, the Soul of India. After all it’s every drop that comes together to make an ocean.
Text: Ashish Chalapuram
Photo credits: Shannon Heng, Ashish Chalapuram