Saturday, April 5, 2014


I've started a thousand blogs in the past few weeks, to tell you that I've felt like I was on the edge of something great, standing on solid ground looking out over answers; Like peering off of the edge of a scenic overlook into the many layers of earth the are cut into the walls of the Grand Canyon, yet grasping for understanding of how and why it got this way. I guess I didn't think I'd arrive at the scenic overlook of India and understand, but I also didn't think I'd be so overwhelmed.

Like standing at a the edge of the Grand Canyon won’t unearth stories of it’s beginnings, standing on the edge of India would never give you answers. You'd always remain safe, comfortable and absolutely ignorant.  You could study it layer by layer, and you should, but in order to understand anything, you have to sometimes become it, if only for a moment, a year or even -I fear- a lifetime. 

People wait for years to raft the Grand Canyon. They pay a year's salary to feel that thing they’d never feel standing miles above it, safely behind the guard-rails, reading the Cliff notes on a plaque. In order to feel fear, to understand it, you’ve got to first be scared.

You must enter the rapids.

I arrived here with feet firmly on the ground, head in the clouds, just like usual, but instead of unearthing answers from the horizon down, I walked straight to the boat, put on my helmet and paddled straight for the white water. 

You may have seen me in the crowd. 

A jovial bunch of Gentlemen that I laugh with, and with whom I share technical and creative inspiration and information, posed neatly on the streets of Chennai. They feed me with knowledge of their home, I take a million photos and sometimes I take none. Sometimes the lesson for the day lies within the conversation and in the camaraderie. It isn’t always comfortable, the things we see. I've wanted to fight it, to close my eyes tightly and pretend it wasn’t there, but I’ve learned, instead, to let my body be limp and I roll with the rapids. 

These men and my camera are my river guides. They’ve all traveled this way before. They know where the rocks are to be avoided and they know which ones will cause a thrill. They also know that the more I know the more I’ll understand. Without them, without my camera I’d never get as close to truth as I do, but coming close to the largest boulders in the river means having your body and mind tossed about quite a bit and the exhaustion of it all has begun to catch up with me and I ache for a bit of a lull. A summer break of sorts.

My experience in India has been quite different than Paul’s. It was always meant to be and just as I suspected I'd have a hard time shaking some of the images that I’ve captured in my mind - se’er of all things wonderful and beautiful. It is in fact what makes India the beautiful, painful, wonderful, heartbreaking place that it is. To see one, you can not forsake the other.

I try to tell Paul all about my adventures – with words- when I return, but I don’t think he really understands what’s eating me when I finally rest safely on the shore at the end of each Sunday, but I'm sure he's glad I'm home. He's also glad I've gone, because he knows that without exploring India the way I do, I'll never feel I've given it my best. I’ve brushed too closely with death to not feel incredibly relieved, lucky and absolutely confused about why I deserve this life and others don’t. I’m overwhelmed by the need to help and paralyzed by the enormity of the situation. He recently admitted, only after seeing my photographs, that he feels where I’ve been.

One small step.

And so I’ve done the only thing I think I can do, I've developed a thirst for knowledge and a thirst to create images that is as difficult to quench as my thirst for water on a hot day. My head aches with pieces of a puzzle that are too slowly falling together. I flip each piece over one-by-one, image-by-image, to reveal the colors backed only by their recognizable cardboard, files in my inbox emails from my lab, images of India created with so much heart that I am desperate to use in a meaningful way. Only then does it all begin to make the slightest bit of sense. I don’t imagine I’ll finish compiling all the pieces in just two years and that in itself, makes me ache for more. 

I know I’ve said it before, but I've got to believe that I've come here for something, it may not at all be related to what I am creating photographically, but God how I wish it will be, because only in these photographs can I begin to understand this place and to share my experience. Only in analyzing each layer of red earth revealed on the canyon walls, each fossil pressed by time, can I process the whole. By tasting each spice, understanding it’s use and from where comes. By eating with my friends, in their homes and at their tables, by photographing raw ingredients and living completed meals can I truly live India and share it truthfully and completely with the world.  

To live a little bit of India for yourself, through my eyes, please visit my photography blog  // 

To purchase prints please visit my "India" gallery showcase here //

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