This week’s letter is about my trip to India bringing along the first serious digital camera I had bought for myself. Also….news about an upcoming printed matter!
Housekeeping - NOTICE Journal • Volume One
If you follow me on IG you may have encountered this small sketch that I shared on my Story. I mentioned it was the first kernel of a concept that I sent over to my friend Dan Rubin, the designer of my 2021 photo book NOTICE and a great photographer.
This sketch is the most rudimentary visual translation of the concept I’ve been working on for a few months: NOTICE Journal • Volume One and the future follow-ups Volume Two and Volume Three coming over the course of the next year.
What is the NOTICE Journal series about? I’ll talk about that in detail very soon, but for now, take a look at this stunning design that Dan created. It shows the color gradient that connects all volumes together.
For the next period, I will guide you through every step of the creation process.
My Trip To India
In the summer of 2006, I took my first trip to India, drawn to the country's vibrant culture and the opportunity to visit my dear friend Kelsy working as a volunteer in the state of Tamil Nadu. I had just bought a Canon EOS 20D, the first camera I had bought for myself, and I was eager to capture this journey from Chennai to Madurai, and Puducherry. Confoundingly, especially in hindsight, I only bought one lens, with an extremely wide 10-20mm focal length. Great for a skateboarding shot, but not ideal for a travel story or portraits. I knew nothing!
As soon as I stepped off the plane in Chennai, the heat and humidity hit me like a wall. I quickly realized that my wardrobe was all wrong for the climate, so I headed to the local markets to find some linen clothes that would keep me cool. The craftsmen and women I observed working on these clothes with dedication and precision were truly inspiring.
The train ride from Chennai to Madurai really stood out for me. It was packed with people of all ages and backgrounds, and the windows were open, letting in the warm breeze and the sounds and smells of the passing landscape. It was a thirteen-hour trip but there was so much to observe it felt like an entire season of a series unfolding right before my eyes. I wish I had photographed any or all of it, but I didn’t yet have my photo documentarian brain lit on fire yet, regrettably.
The markets were another highlight of my trip. Everywhere I looked, there was something new and exciting to discover. The colors, sounds, and smells were overwhelming, but in the best way possible. Vendors were shouting, shoppers were haggling, and the energy was electric.
My visit to Tamil Nadu coincided with a period of religious ceremonies for the Hindu people, including the practice of hair-shaving, or tonsuring. It was explained to me that offering one’s hair as a sacrifice to the god Vishnu is believed to lead to good luck and granted wishes. The family below had come from one of these ceremonies.
Everywhere I walked I found people of remarkable patience, kindness, and readiness to pose for the camera when requested and have a conversation about their day.
The most memorable part of my trip was visiting the orphanage in Gandhigram where Kelsy was volunteering. The children there were so full of life and love. I spent hours taking pictures of them, capturing their infectious laughter and joy on my camera.
India is a country like no other. The poverty and inequality were heart-wrenching, but the people's resilience and passion for life were inspiring and beautiful. The food was some of the best I've ever had, and the culture was so rich and diverse.
I left India feeling grateful for the experience, and I knew that I would never forget the sights, sounds, and tastes of that incredible journey. It was only two weeks, but it made a big impact on me.
Since this trip, I have picked up a wealth of photography knowledge and travel experience. I hope to return to India, armed with all this experience, and take a different approach to my time there. I’d love to connect with more people, respectfully document a closer look at life and craft and food, and stay in one area.
I would bring a 35mm and a 50mm lens, maybe an 85mm for portraits. I’d shoot most of it on film and bring a digital camera for fast-moving moments. And I would bring my Hasselblad for portraits, so many portraits.
That’s it for this week!
Next week: I will talk about goal setting for photographers, and share more about the NOTICE Journal • Volume One. Plus the return of the Process Giveaway.
Keep shooting and take good care of yourselves and others.
Find me on Glass / LinkedIn / Instagram
A big thank you to my friends over at MBP.com for making this issue possible. MPB is the largest global platform to buy, sell, and trade used photo and video gear. They serve over 625,000 visual storytellers and all gear comes with a six-month warranty.
Next up I’m testing is the Canon R5 and it’s my favorite so far. Images soon.
Shout Out: All film was developed and scanned by my friends at Carmencita Film Lab. Use code “PROCESS” at check out to get a free size upgrade for your scans.
Did you enjoy this issue? Share it with a friend who might love it too.
Can’t get enough? Browse the Process Archives.
I was lucky enough to visit India on a few occasions, including Chennai. Business trips, but always making time to go out, explore and take photos. Some of them are my all-time favorites. Like you, this was in my digitial-only-in-between-period….
What a beautiful read! I miss India dearly, it will be my next big trip. Did you go to Auroville?
Also the dosas and idlis in Chennai were just 😍