-by Pravin Tamang
Over 5 million travellers combined with pilgrims from around the world visit the famed ghats of Varanasi. I frequent these ghats just as anyone, most times aimlessly. Blank gaze across the horizon of the meandering Ganges from the start of the day to the end of it. Sometimes I wonder how many people have walked through these sandstone and cobbled pathways of the ghats, some during their happy moments but most for their journey towards the end. My thoughts wander towards how temporary and short our existence is in contrast to this city that has stood the test of time through generations, silently along with the river.
The hustle and bustle aside, I love the true mood of the city, the quietness of it all, I am drawn towards these scenes of calm and witness these moments that define this place for me. I take a shot, walk, and repeat the same action again and every time I compose and press the shutter I get a deep sense of calm within me. I prefer isolating my subjects normally at the backdrop of the morning or an evening mood, right behind me maybe few more pilgrims/tourists or even hundreds but to me at a time, I can only see and hear my subject and most times feel their deep sense of devotion and a sense of solitude. I want my images to translate those moments of being alone in the midst of the chaos behind them. Only in Varanasi you could see these multiple narratives flowing past you along the Ganges. I prefer black and white to further add simplicity to these images.
I’ve consistently been drawn and prefer to take shots of these honest moments. Moments that have probably been repeated every day of my subject’s life yet they are unique, important, and significant.
This is why I believe Elliot Erwitt makes a lot of sense when he said, “To me, photography is about finding something interesting in an ordinary place… I’ve found it has little to do with the things you see and everything to do with the way you see them.”