I spent 5 days in Varanasi way back in 2011 and this is my earliest street photography work. I also think there is a social documentary aspect to these images, telling a story of everyday life in this amazing city.
Varanasi is situated on the banks of the River Ganges in Uttar Pradesh and is reckoned to be one of the oldest continuously inhabited cities in the world. Varanasi is also one of the seven sacred cities of Hinduism. That might explain the Karma and spirituality the city exudes. It is a vibe that many visitors tune into, regardless of their religious or spiritual persuasion. I certainly did!
India – A Watershed Moment
My visit to India was a positive watershed moment in my life in several ways. Although I had already travelled quite extensively in the past, it had always been to westernised countries. India was my first experience of a markedly different culture and way of life and I loved it! Without realising it at the time this is when I started to develop a fascination for photographing people going about their daily lives and illustrating contrasting cultures. My passion for social documentary and street photography was born.
Street Photography or Social Documentary?
I am fascinated by the contrasting culture and way of life in different parts of the world. If you live in Varanasi, or anywhere else in India, you might interpret these images as everyday street photography. However for those of us living in the UK, or anywhere else in the West, these images illustrate the striking differences to be found in our respective societies.
That is why the social documentary element of my photography might start to resonate, depending on your viewpoint and geographic location.