‘This is Burma,……it will be quite unlike any land you know about’ Rudyard Kipling, and was the inspiration for Kipling’s poem Mandalay. Myanmar is still pretty new to the tourist trail so it is an untouched gem for documentary photographers. Starting in the capital Yangon and venturing further into the country, Myanmar’s markets, Buddhist temples, coast and people welcome you in and are prime subjects to photograph.
Kolkata, capital of West Bengal, is the third most populated city in India, with an urban population 14.3 million, and believe me you absolutely feel it! A city of diverse lifestyles, being the principal commercial city with modern tower-blocks, hotels and businesses, alongside some of the oldest and most extensive areas of homelessness and communities that have built their homes in temporary shacks alongside the city’s canals and railway lines. Kolkata takes documentary street photography to another level, and some of it’s grittier, more challenging aspects are best captured in high contrast black and white photography.
Jodhpur, the famous blue walled city of Rajasthan, captures the romantic traditional image of India, with its intense colour and scents, and is an incredible source for dramatic and dynamic documentary street and travel photography. Driving out of the city to the recognisable red turbaned Reika tribes, step back in time, breath in the fresh air and enjoy the quiet of the surrounding farmland and rural villages. Jodhpur and its people need to be celebrated in full vibrant colour photography.
Unlike anywhere else in India let alone the world, Varanasi is the holiest of the seven most sacred cities for Hindus and Jains. In Northern India. On the banks of the Ganges, it is believed that death in the city will bring salvation. Completely overwhelming all the senses, but totally compelling, life and death share this space side by side, washing, bathing, praying and cremating the dead in Ghats along the river. Bodies are carried through the street to the cremation Ghats passed chai sellers and roaming cows, but rather than being a place of great sadness, there is a peace and joy that to us with more reserved emotions towards death is truly enlightening. Varanasi is an experience never to be forgotten.
Held every November to coincide with the full moon, the Pushkar Camel Festival is heralded as the biggest tribal gathering in Rajasthan, India, attracting thousands of tribesman and their camels, horses and cattle, and around 400,000 visitors over the fourteen day mela. Watch the horse riding and camel racing, wander through the colourful stalls and the red spired Brahma temple. Pushkar located on the shore of Pushkar Lake, there are many Ghats where pilgrims come to bathe. Pushkar is also important for Sikhs and has Gurdwaras dedicated to Guru Nanak.
Silchar is an important business district of Assam and within driving distance of some of India’s extensive tea plantations. Silchar has a very different feel from its neighbouring city of Kolkata with its green lush tea plants stretching out towards the blue silhouetted mountains in the distance.
Istanbul, historically known as Constantinople and Byzantium, is one of the most photogenic cities I’ve ever visited. Given its astonishing history there is no shortage of subjects to photograph. The places, people and dimly lit passages are a rich source of inspiration for reportage street photography. Istanbul’s numerous bazaars are the perfect backdrop for documentary street photography and although geared more to the tourist than local trade, the markets are nevertheless full of things to see and record with your camera. Although Turkey’s ethnic minorities are concentrated in Istanbul, the influence of Islam is at the heart of this city.
The Processione dei Misteri di Trapani has been performed for over 300 years and retells the passion plays through the most elaborate floats being paraded from the church through the streets of Trapani for 16 hours. We joined them as they prepared and gathered in the church early in the morning and followed them throughout the day until nightfall. The immense effort under which the men carry the floats of Christ and Mary is clear in their faces, and the whole experience is incredibly powerful for even the non-religious visitor. Trapani has become a source of inspiration for many street photographers, returning over a number of years to record this extraordinary procession, including myself.
Good morning Vietnam! I must confess Robin Williams legendary line whirled around my head arriving in the capital city Hanoi. A city where East meets West, and has been rapidly developing since 1990 when it opened its doors to the outside world. The memories of the Vietnam war are not far beneath the surface and there is still evidence of more simple, traditional life against the hi-tech modern consumerism of its young population.
From the cool and trendy young guys of Shoreditch barbers and Soho music shops, through the bustling multicultural markets of Brick Lane, to the historical Speakers Corner of Hyde Park, London is perfect for documentary street photo walks. As daily life rushes past graffiti walls and advertising boards, there are lots of opportunities to catch the unusual in the usual. I return to these locations again and again to develop particular photographic themes or stories.
There’s an affinity between the storytelling style of documentary photography and the founding principle at the heart of the Edinburgh Festival Fringe; which is to be an open-access arts event that accommodates anyone with a story to tell. The freedom with which I shoot my street photography reflects the freedom the EFFS allows the performers to shape the program through their own creative visions of performance. The Edinburgh festival is the largest arts festival in the world, held annually for three weeks in the Scottish capital bringing global performers and visitors together for an experience you need to try at least once in your lifetime!