Working India: Portraits

A series of environmental working portraits shot on commission at a variety of locations around India, in January 2018.

A series of environmental working portraits shot on commission at a variety of locations around India, in January 2018.

After a few days in India, I was finding it difficult to shoot candid portraits without being noticed  Рand thus taking lots of photos of people smiling and giving victory signs. Nice in the moment, perhaps, but not adding up to much.

So, I decided to give myself a brief: take a series of portraits focused on people at work, aiming to reveal something about their profession, but also about the environments in which they work.¬† Consequently, if I wasn’t spotted, I was able to shoot candid portraits, but if I was – and I most often was! – I could use the universal sign language for ‘please carry on with what you’re doing, or show me your work.’

Thus, grinning, to-camera shots became a more formal portraits, and helped marry with candid images, to give the project an internal cohesion.

One of the most striking aspects of India for me on this first ever visit, was the fervour and intensity of working life. Everywhere you go, everyone is working, all the time, at something.

While we were visiting, a programme to launch 75 satellites in 5 years was announced, alongside reports of the planned construction of the second largest supercomputer in the world, and though I didn’t get shoot in to a high tech lab – at least not on this trip – it seemed like the drive and ambition of the country at an international level, is matched by the industriousness of its citizens across regions, classes and professions.

I’d love to go back and carry on documenting workers of all sorts, but for now, I hope this set reflects something of the dignity, humour, determination and character of the working people we met on this trip.