Photographing a story on the Pushkar camel fair is something I had wanted to do since hearing about it shortly after arriving in India to teach photography in 2002. In the fall of 2008, the right opportunity presented itself and I found myself under the Rajasthan desert sun surrounded by thousands of nomads. What I realized immediately was the real story was not the fair, but the thousands of lives in the orbit of the mela. Just as a satellite has a clear view of the earth, their lives told a story of the bigger picture beyond the surface of what any casual observer would see. I chose to focus on just one family drawn into the fairs orbit. Click the play button below to see the mela through their eyes. Don’t forget to click the full screen button on the bottom right for the full effect.
Musicians of the Thar Desert from Jonathan Kingston on Vimeo.
Every year, thousands of camel herders and tens of thousands of camels gather during the full moon of the month of Kartik to trade their livestock. In the midst of this mela, filled with a carnival atmosphere of tourists, hucksters, con men, and heavily mustached and turbaned desert nomads, a family of musicians counts on the festival to bring in the majority of the money they need to survive for the coming year.
In the fall of 2008, I made a trip to India to visit former students and get my creative juices flowing. After 20 hours of travel, crossing multiple time zones and very little sleep, I touched down to the mayhem of Mumbai at one in the morning and let Paul Liebhardt talk me into foregoing much needed sleep in order to photograph at the Dhobi Ghat before sunrise the following day. So exhausted that I was not sure which way was up or down, we managed to spend three hours at the Ghat before succumbing to exhaustion. Here is a little rich media piece I produced from those few short hours. I look forward to returning to the subject in the future for more in-depth coverage. Be sure to click on full screen for the full experience.
Mahalaxmi Dhobi Ghat, Mumbai, India from Jonathan Kingston on Vimeo.
In the heart of Mumbai lies an integral feature of the city. The Mahalaxmi Dhobi ghat where 10,000 workers wash over 1,000,000 pieces of clothing a day, by hand, each individual standing in the soapy water near their washing stone for up to 16 hours. The dhobi ghat is one of the largest examples of this profession in the world and it is finding itself at the center of a a John Henry-esque story of man versus machine is unfolding in this rapidly growing city of over 18 million people.
Jonathan Kingston Explores the World in Search of Images and Insights