Stereotypical rivers

India 18-03-11

If in any doubt at all (photographically speaking) head straight for water. Immediately as a photographer you have more dimensions to play with – extra textures, reflections, geometry and somehow, a completely new, never before seen tonal range. And certainly as far as black and white goes it does not matter what the light is doing, misty, flat or harsh, chances are you will come away with something special.

Having grown up admiring and coveting the work of Cartier-Bresson – and in particular his Indian photographs – I was quietly looking forward to having the opportunity to work by one of the rivers of India. Cartier-Bresson’s images of river life are iconic, to say the least and what they depict has been reinforced over the years by countless other photographers, television documentaries about the Ganges and Hollywood films. If ever there was an Indian stereotype for me to come away with, I knew it would be here, on the banks of the Yamuna.

Relaxing, contemplating and meditating in the River Yanumna during Holi festival, India by Toby Deveson. March 2011So when we first arrived in both Mathura and Vrindavan and we found we had time to kill before various parades or celebrations started, we partook in some random wandering. Random wandering that somehow, inevitably ended up taking us straight to the river.

Groups of people, families, friends and individuals, were gathered by the water’s edge, contemplating life, praying, washing, bathing and even drinking the river water. Most were pilgrims, drawn to Mathura and Vrindavan by Holi and to the river itself by the temples that lined it. Families were sat having picnics, groups were listening to preachers, children were splashing and swimming, pilgrims were posing, having their photos taken by friends and family and people were wading straight into the filthy water (fully dressed or naked), without a second thought. In amongst all this relaxed activity were the boats, pulled up onto the shore with their eager owners touting for business and haggling with pilgrims and the (extremely) occasional western tourist. They offered tours to other temples in the area or the chance to cross to the other side, perhaps to a quieter, more peaceful place to meditate. The water itself was lined with hundreds of orange flowers and plenty of litter – ineffectual obstacles for those wishing to partake in the holy and spiritual properties of the Yamuna.

Other than those times I am photographing landscapes and working in complete isolation, I have never known such a relaxed and calm atmosphere. It was magical and yes, it felt both spiritual and holy. Stereotype or not, I was inspired.

Related Images

Relaxing, contemplating and meditating in the River Yanumna during Holi festival, India by Toby Deveson. March 2011

Relaxing, contemplating and meditating in the River Yanumna during Holi festival, India by Toby Deveson. March 2011

Relaxing, contemplating and meditating in the River Yanumna during Holi festival, India by Toby Deveson. March 2011

Relaxing, contemplating and meditating in the River Yanumna during Holi festival, India by Toby Deveson. March 2011

Latest

Blog_Cover_Swarm_500x345

Swarm

It was as simple as ‘get to the top of Finland and turn left’.  At least that is

Blog_Odadahraun_Desert_Iceland_Aug_2015

Blink and you’ll miss it

Iceland. Never has the essence of a country so closely resembled the way in which I see the

F01-33D_blog_cover

Under the Stars in Madagascar

There are times when writing about memories from as far back as my eighteenth year feels wrong. How

Blog_Viewpoints_Cover

Viewpoints

The Rooftop Collective exhibition edition VI Tempus Fugit. So they say. Here we are again, another Rooftop Collective

Memories

Blog_F25-46B

Speedometers and Bikes

When cycling around Eastern Europe it was very low-tech for Morgan and I. Our decision was spur of

Jim_New_Delhi_Airport_March_2011

Brown carpets and rotating Y-fronts

Arrival in India 13-03-11: An airport is an airport is an airport. And Delhi airport is an airport.

Summer_Evenings

Summer Evenings in the Pub

A couple of weeks ago I was working at Celtic Manor Golf Course – the venue for the

Blog_Great_Sand_Dunes_National_Park_Valley_September_2016

Alter Egos in the Dunes

I have often wondered what it was in particular that attracted me to photography. What it was that

Randomly Selected

Just_Like_Starting_Over_Blog

(Just Like) Starting Over

In 1980 John Lennon released his first single for five years after a long period of self imposed

Blog_Rooftop_edition_v

The Rooftop Collective Edition V

It always astonishes me how much influence a curator can have on an exhibition. I effectively curate my

Blog_West_of_the_Sun_Trailer

West of the Sun trailer

A huge thank you to Jim Shannon for putting together this wonderful trailer for ‘West of the Sun’.

F23-10A_news_thumbnail

To the West of the Sun

“But what is there, west of the sun?” I asked. She shook her head again. “I don’t know.