Fishing in Kerala

I first visited Kerala in 2012, I spent most of the time sitting on the beach and apart from heavy drinking sessions with local fisherman I didn't really get to see much of the culture. This time however we got see some of the things that makes Kerala unique to much of India. The first taste of local culture was the fishing community. Kerala relies heavily on the sea. The seafood is incredible there. Fresh, cheap and abunant.

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Kerala is a heavily Christian state, the statue of Christ looked over the harbour where the boats came in with each days catch.

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As with most markets around the world the main buyers were women who fiercely bartered for the best price.  

 

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A bird waits for any dropped fish as each catch is brought ashore. 

 
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The lovely morning light and the interesting shapes and colours make markets a great place fro travelphotography.

 
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No matter the size all the fish were sold directly on the beach as soon as they came off the boats. Lots of the fish was actually gutted and descaled right on the beach before being taken to peoples homes and restaurants. You really dont get any fresher.

 
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When we arrived back at our hotel we found fisherman pulling in a huge net from the shore. There was at least 20 men on each side of the net working for over an hour from when we arrived. 

 
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As the net drew in one man got in the water and corralled the fish into the end of the net.  

 
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To me the catch seemed pretty small for such a large group of fisherman, most of the fish were tiny like the ones in the picture above.

 
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The catch again was sold right on the beach, no waiting here!

The Joy Of Reading

One thing I always love to see is people reading. In the west it's very common for people to spend enormous amounts of time looking at their phones so seeing someone reading a book or a newspaper is kind of special to me. Whenever I'm travelling I always take pictures of people reading, its kind of my travel photography habit.

Below are some of my personal favourite images I've made of people reading. 

 

A young Buddhist monk, Siem Reap, Cambodia.

A young Buddhist monk, Siem Reap, Cambodia.

 

One thing I love about Asia is the religions that are practised. They are a way of life and dominate so much of peoples daily lives. In South East Asia you will find lots of young novice monks reading and learning about Buddhism.

 
Angkor Wat, Cambodia

Angkor Wat, Cambodia

 
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Bangkok, Thailand

Bangkok, Thailand

With technology like Kindles and smartphones getting better and better to read from its hard not to imagine that books will eventually become obsolete. We consume so much of our media electronically now, from books, newspapers, lottery numbers and guide books theres not a lot you cant read via an electronic device.  

Bangkok, Thailand

Bangkok, Thailand

 
Hoi-An, Vietnam

Hoi-An, Vietnam

Buddhism

I've always been fascinated with Buddhism. Travel has only made me more fascinated and it seems the more I learn the less I know. Its a deeply varied religion, practiced in many different ways. This post is my way of showing the beauty and variety of Buddhism and those who practice it. 

 
Fibreglass moulds used to make statues of Buddha. 

Fibreglass moulds used to make statues of Buddha. 

Siem reap, Cambodia.

 
A Buddhist monk at Hemis monastery.

A Buddhist monk at Hemis monastery.

Ladakh region, India

 
Old hands

Old hands

Leh, Ladakh region, India

 
Temple renovations.

Temple renovations.

Mcleodganj, India

 
A friendly monk named I met named Koum.

A friendly monk named I met named Koum.

Luang Prabang, Laos

 
Buddhist statue, Thiksey monastery.

Buddhist statue, Thiksey monastery.

Ladakh Region, India

 
A young novice monk in Hemis monastery

A young novice monk in Hemis monastery

Ladakh region, India

 
New years eve celebrations

New years eve celebrations

Chiang Mai, Thailand

How To Photograph People

One of the things I am asked again and again is how I approach people and photograph them. Generally it depends on the person and the situation but here are a few tips that can help you take better travel photography portraits.

 

Talk to them.

People like to be treated with respect. If you just go and shove a camera in someones face without bothering to say hello chances are you wont get a good image. Take the time to say hello and while taking photos have a chat with them. Often even if people are reluctant to have their photo taken open up after a conversation and will be more than happy to have their new friend make some images of them. Not only will you get better images but you will also have fond memories of those images. 

A young Buddhist monk in Hemis monastery, Ladakh region, India

A young Buddhist monk in Hemis monastery, Ladakh region, India

Take Lots Of Photos.

I'm not saying just stand there snapping away but move around the subject, interact and click as many pics as you can without annoying them. Take a few pics, have a chat, move, take some more, move again etc etc. Sometimes you'll get a reaction such as a smile or a laugh that just makes the portrait special, If you only take one or two shots you could easily miss the perfect moment. It can take time for people to get used to being in front of a camera, if they seem uncomfortable at first try putting the camera down for a few minutes and then go back to shooting again. 

Pikaroy, Jaipur

Pikaroy, Jaipur

 

Direct Your Subject.

I don't stage photos. I've got nothing against people that do but its just not my thing. I do however indirectly direct (make sense?) the people I'm photographing. For example say you want to photograph a Rabari man and you'd like him to be twisting his moustache, chances are that if you mimmic twisting your own tache (tache not required but helpful) then he will curl his moustache right after. Another example is if you want somone to be looking in a certain direction point at something in that direction and ask them about it, like 'hey, do you live in that part of town' etc. Just by interacting with the subject you can get completely different results.

 

A Rabari man near Ranakpur, India.

A Rabari man near Ranakpur, India.

 

Be Bold.

Don't be afraid. Most of Asia have a very different view of privacy, in India for example its common for someone to come up to you and just invite you into their home before even asking your name. If you see a person with an amazing face and you want to photograph them then just go and talk to them. Ask them about themselves and ask for a photo. Worst case scenario is they say no but you've had a chat, hopefully learnt a bit about them and although you may not have got an image at least you are both happy.

 

A Tibetan refugee in Majnu Ka Tilla, Delhi, India

A Tibetan refugee in Majnu Ka Tilla, Delhi, India

 

Show Interest.

See a market stall seller that is super interesting? Go and ask them what they are selling. Buy an item. Try and say a few words in their language. People love talking about what they do. People love talking about their culture. If you spend a little time learning about a person before you make any images you will get better photographs. Not only will your images be better but you will also have learnt something and have a story to tell with the photo. 

 

A shoe seller in Jaipur right after I won a bet with his son.

A shoe seller in Jaipur right after I won a bet with his son.

 

Be Nice.

This is by far the most important aspect. Smile. Show respect. Treat everyone like you want to be treated. 

The Brick Makers At Bhaktupur

On the 25th of April 2015 at 11:56 a 7.8 magnitude earthquake struck Nepal killing nearly 9,000 people and injuring a further 22,000. Thousands were made homeless overnight. 

I visited Nepal in 2016 almost exactly one year after the earthquake. I found a country still struggling to repair itself but there was a feeling of hope. Progress was being made, it was slow and there was still a very long way to go but there was a positive vibe. One thing I immediatly noticed was the sheer amount of buildings that were still yet to be repaired, many were still piles of rubble as if the earthquake had happened yesterday. 

A door frame buried under rubble in Kathmandu city. 

A door frame buried under rubble in Kathmandu city. 

Nepal is one of Asias poorest countries, with nearly 25% living in poverty. Add to this the terrain and difficulties in moving materials required to begin reconstruction and its easy to see how big a job it is for Nepal. Just clearing rubble from the narrow streets in the cities is an enormous job and one many simply cannot afford. 

During the earthquake up to 80% of the countries brick factories were destroyed. This left the remaining factories under huge pressure to supply the bricks needed to rebuild the country. I spent some time at one of the functioning factories in Bhaktupur. The people were incredibly friendly, they didn't mind at all that some weird foreigner was basically inviting himself into their place of work. In fact they were more than happy to show me around and explain what they were doing.

The first stage, making the brick.

The first stage, making the brick.

The first stage of brick production is to mix the clay and push it into a mould. This was a very physical job. As you can see from the picture above it builds muscle! This guy was built like an amateur bodybuilder.  

Bricks drying in the sun

Bricks drying in the sun

 

After moulding the bricks are dried in the sun. Once dry the bricks are piled up on one side of the pit while they clear the other side and remove any rubble and broken bricks. This work is hard. Like really hard. I really admire people who do these jobs and they almost are always the most under-appreciated members of society. It was hot and very dusty in the pits and men and women of all ages were working. When the pits are full of dry bricks the whole thing is covered in earth and charcoal is poured down into channels and then the bricks are fired. 

As I said above everyone I met was very friendly and many loved having their photos taken. There was quite a few posers there!

The last stage is loading the bricks onto trucks ready to be transported to where they are needed. Just like the previous tasks its incredibly hard labour. I was walking in and out of the pits making photographs and was very aware how easy it would be to snap an ankle or fall and break my arm and I didn't have a pile of bricks on my head. 

If there was one thing I learnt about the Nepalese it is that they are incredibly kind and friendly people. There's a lot of work to be done and I truly wish them the best. I can't wait to go back! 

The Night Of The Devils

Fiesta Del Sant Joan, one of Spains craziest festivals.

Spain is well known for its festivals, with The Running Of The Bulls in Pamplona and Tomatina being the most widely known. But the little known Festival of Sant Joan held each June is one of the wildest. It is celebrated all over Spain but it is particularly lively in the town of Tarragona.

It starts at the top of the town and follows enormous papier-mâché monsters down the narrow streets to a main square where bonfires are lit. When I read about this festival I was aware there would be fireworks but I wasn't ready for the scale of the pyrotechnics that would be involved. In fact my t-shirt actually set on fire at one point!

One of the monsters covered in fireworks

One of the monsters covered in fireworks

In-between the sculptures there are the Diabolos (devils) and these guys are brave, like REALLY brave. They basically carry broom sticks with huge roman candles on the ends that spin and spray sparks out before exploding above their heads. The atmosphere is incredible, above the whistles and explosions of the fireworks are drums and the streets are filled with smoke creating incredible demonic silhouettes.

The streets are very narrow which gives you little room to escape the fireworks

The streets are very narrow which gives you little room to escape the fireworks

Sant Joan (St Johns eve) has it's roots in re-Christian religions and is a celebration of the summer solstice and the shortest night of the year. In the days running up to the festival petard (fireworks) shops open up all over Spain and you can't go anywhere without hearing the crack of fireworks.

I think it was probably this shot where I caught a few too many sparks and my cheap polyester t-shirt caught alight! 

I think it was probably this shot where I caught a few too many sparks and my cheap polyester t-shirt caught alight! 

Flares and smoke. Perfect for creating dramatic silhouettes!

Flares and smoke. Perfect for creating dramatic silhouettes!

Apart from a burnt t-shirt I came away unharmed and my camera was undamaged however my girlfriend did get a few burn marks on her camera screen and we both had quite a few little burns on our hands. These could easily have been avoided by following the six P's. Prior Preparation Prevents Piss Poor Performance. When I saw everyone passing around a roll of duck tape and taping their gloves on before it started I knew I was un-prepared. Next time I'm bringing gloves and a pair of goggles!

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Srinagars Dal lake, Kashmir

Kashmir is the northern most region in South Asia. With parts in China, India and Pakistan it's often in the news due to a constant land dispute between Pakistan and India. Its actually badly misrepresented and is an incredibly beautiful and friendly part of the world. These images are from Indian Kashmir's summer capital Srinagar.

A flower seller paddles home from the morning vegetable market. 

A flower seller paddles home from the morning vegetable market. 

Each morning local farmers all gather on the lake to sell their produce from small boats at the floating vegetable market. The lake has been used to grow food since the time of the Moghuls and the floating gardens still look much like they did hundreds of years ago.

Vendors ply their trade at the floating market.

Vendors ply their trade at the floating market.

Among the vegetable sellers are the flower guys. Floriculture is a huge industry in Kashmir.

Among the vegetable sellers are the flower guys. Floriculture is a huge industry in Kashmir.

Many families live directly on the island, many on entire floating villages equipped with everything from shops in boats to floating farms. 

A family stop to have dinner on the edge of Dal lake

A family stop to have dinner on the edge of Dal lake

It's an early rise if you want to go to the market.

It's an early rise if you want to go to the market.