Sunday, 20 March 2011

My Work: The Sayid & The Banni

Photo © Tewfic El-Sawy-All Rights Reserved
Photo © Tewfic El-Sawy-All Rights Reserved

Although I'm more inclined to photograph in a "photojournalistic" style during my photo~expeditions and/or assignments, with the aim to merge travel photography with reportage, I also do work in travel portraiture. Not to be confused with environmental portraits, travel portraiture is a simpler style and obviously can be used for stock, travel brochures and the like.

From my just completed In Search of Sufis of Gujarat photo~expedition, I feature a couple of portraits. The one on top is of a Banni woman at the doorway of her circular mud hut in the Kutch area of Gujarat. Her expression belies her capricious attitude while being photographed. She see-sawed between being flattered that I was photographing her (she's cute, after all) and asking me for money then turning away or shooing me off. She might've had success in getting paid by tourists, who walk in her village to buy handicrafts and the like. Despite her reluctance to cooperate, I managed to position her so that one half of the frame would have a black background, and the other half would be of a mud wall...but that didn't last long.

In short...a tiresome model.

The lower photograph is of a buffalo herder (or grazer). A proud man, with a regal bearing, he was herding the buffaloes back to the owners' farm. In my eagerness to photograph him with his animals against the setting sun, I tripped and went diving down on the ground...belly and chest first. I have no idea how I managed to protect my camera which, in contrast to my knees, escaped unscathed.

A Muslim, who introduced himself as a Sayid, he works for a Hindu community of farmers. He was welcoming, extremely cooperative, and patient with us. However, he was very serious during the whole of the photo shoot, only relaxing when we had finished. Those of us who've photographed in India (as an example) know the drill...the subjects are relaxed when the camera is not aimed at them, but the second the lens is directed at them, they freeze and become super-serious.