I love to resonate to the tunes of nature!!! Imagine yourself standing at the banks of a still lake around dusk. A cool breeze crosses over the mountains, brings down leaves and creates ripples in still water. As it carries the pollens along, it also spreads the fragrance of the lovely flowers that come in its way and then gives you a gentle tap before vanishing in the divine. Trust me, this is so mesmerising that you immediately hope for the next one. “Ye dil mange more!!! “
4 yrs into my journey with the camera, I was happy clubbing my love for nature and wildlife with photography. I was able to come up with intrigue frames that would help me express my joy of being one with nature.
At the same time, my discomfort clicking people was growing. Somehow, I had developed an apprehension towards clicking humans. That is why you would rarely find human elements in my frames earlier. This, however, was about to change.
From nowhere, on a mundane evening, my mind picked up a noble thought of visiting Pushkar with team “Impressions Photography Group”. Before I could evaluate the nobleness of the thought, I had already booked my train and air tickets and paid for the tour fees. That night I slept peacefully as usual.
When I woke up the next morning, I knew, I had committed a blunder. My brain was cursing my heart. “Pushkar is all about street photography you idiot”, it yelled. Where would I find nature? I googled to finally conclude it was pretty late.
I had signed up to witness a large crowd, camels and horses, cattle, barren land, a country fair, a few temples and a town that would become lively only for 14 days between the last week of Oct and 3rd week of Nov. I had no clue what I would do there. The conflict between my heart and brain continued until finally, the day arrived when I left for Pushkar.
After an overnight train journey from Mumbai, we finally reached Ajmer and then Pushkar. The cabbie who gave our group a ride from Ajmer to Pushkar stopped a mile before Pushkar and requested us to walk to the hotel. When asked why he gave a disgusting look. The message was loud and clear. Get Lost!!!
As we started walking towards the town I realised why the guy dropped us a mile away. Each step ahead made me nervous and anxious. By now, I was struggling to navigate through the ocean of people. Every minute there was a new set of people getting added to the crowd. Right from the Naga Sadhus to the most modern and trendy devotee, all heading towards the Bramha Temple. I was lucky to capture all kinds of devotees in one frame 🙂
Hawkers trying to sell mobiles, covers, wallets, purses, jewellery, clothes, footwear, food, flower, utensils and all that a shopping freak can imagine. If you ever decide to visit Pushkar with your girlfriend, wife and/or daughter, mother, be sure to dedicate one day for shopping only. I felt happy about traveling without family.
I had 5 sessions at hand. Three mornings and two evenings. After freshening up when we decided to leave for the first session, I left my tripod back in the room. Carrying a tripod was just too ambitious. The first session turned out to be a great experience. There was a camel dance performance and the entire event made me forget where I was. The bond between the camel and the orchestrator was the key to the success of every performance. Some 6 to 7 camels danced to the tunes of the dhol well choreographed and executed by the orchestrators(owners may be). Composing a single good photo here was extremely difficult. By the end of this session, one thing was very clear to me. There were at least a 1000 photographer in Pushkar to cover the finer aspects of the fare and to take unique photographs back home was extremely difficult for a naive street photographer.
For the evening session, as I stepped out of my hotel room and walked towards the ground where the camel trade typically happens, I observed a strange thing. Photographers were offering money to children, old people, and others and asking them to pose in front of the camera in return. One person would pay and 10 opportune photographers would take their chances. I smiled and moved on as this was not my cup of tea. I, however, feel photographers need to be more responsible and not disturb the sanity of the environment.
I had now started searching for action on the trading ground. And indeed there were a few stories unfolding around. The first day gave me a good sense of the happenings around the little town of Pushkar. I kind of firmed up my thoughts and made my mind on what I should attempt and what I should not. The next 3 sessions I swung into action. I actually overcame my fear for street photography at Pushkar. By the end of the 5th session, I was moving freely with my camera. I still did not have to make someone uncomfortable or ask them to pose. I had discovered my way of clicking groups or individuals in action. Narrowing down on an event and then framing it was fun. To overcome my weakness of close-ups, I decided to use light and dust more effectively when framing people in action.
Today when I look back at my Pushkar photographs, I feel they are the best of the lot. I still recollect the cool evening breeze on the trading ground which carried the fragrance of the food being cooked in the small camps put up by the traders. The smoke from the chulas fills up the ground from all corners. A little later, the purple tones of the after lite faded and a chilling night set in. The campfires then lit up all over the ground. It helped to keep the surroundings warm. Most of the families disappeared in there tent to embrace the next morning with love.
Pushkar was altogether a different experience. I learned to resonate with people and their culture and then capture it in my frames. Pushkar helped me devise a rule for myself. When I am photographing people, street or culture, I look to bring out the intense emotion by showing some action or bonding at the scene. The best comes when I push myself out of my comfort zone. I hope to capture some good candid portraits some day 🙂