You know sometimes you find an image that you really love…at the time, then, when you go back and look at your files a year or two later, you see something else that really jumps out, that trumps your initial selection. Well, for me this is one of those times. Initially I had chosen the image above as my "hero". It was the expression of intense devotion on the woman's face that got me. I ignored the rest…until now more that 2 years later.
Below are my edits from that particular shoot and now there is only one image that stands out amongst all of them. My initial selection is too cluttered and the people in the back merge with the subject. Can you guess which image is my new champion? My choice is below.
This image shows more of the setting, there is still a lot of emotion in the face of the woman who is performing her bathing ritual, but it is the apparent dispassion of the two ladies in conversation behind her that seals it for me — I wish the guy in the back had not raised his arm but I can live with it. What do you think?
I was going through my files looking for an image from the 2013 Maha Kumbh Mela when I came across this one. I liked the chaos of the hands and arms, as well as the bold colors, but what was it all about? What was going on? Does the image work on its own as a graphic treatment of a moment in time? I don't think so.
Recalling that moment during the first of 8 days that we spent in Allahabad, while there to witness the world's largest gathering of humanity during the Maha Kumbh Mela, I went back and looked at the set of images I had taken. They showed a group of women, one who seemed to be the center of attention in her role as a "seer", performing a ritual puja on the banks of the Ganges. From time to time the woman in the red sari would go into a trance state and start shaking her head while the others attended to her. Seen in the context of the story, this image makes more sense.
I spent 15 minutes watching and photographing this whole session. I had gained their approval before taking one picture so was able to move in fairly close and record the whole event with a wide angle lens. After a minute or so I was invisible to them. From the 80 images that I shot I have narrowed the results down to 16.
Jeremy Woodhouse is a professional photographer and traveller. He leads photography trips to all corners of the globe