© 2009 Benjamin Chernivsky Baba Lokesh, 27, waits for customers right in the heart of Udaipur's Old City.

Back on the streets…

Being my first time returning to a field of research, I had no idea hat to expect on my return to Udaipur, jumping back into researching the autowallah drivers in the area.

Ambiguous – a term everyone on the India abroad became very comfortable with. And what a great thing to be just fine with. I think we live in a very unclear, inexact world that is able to be interpreted in so many ways.  And that is the beauty of it. What we find ambiguous has got to be very clear to something much larger than our own minds.

But more than being ambiguous, this little week-long return to research is a lot of things for me. It’s the end of my 3 month journey into the Asian subcontinent. It’s my last bang in India before heading back to mounds-upon-mounds of midwest American snow: winter, that is. It’s the last taste of spices leaked into oils and salts and vegetable matter so well done. Above many things, it’s the chance to give purpose to all this work behind the camera.

When I first set off to India I knew it would be a photographic opportunity for many things, and one of the challenges I would give myself was to look deeper than the beautiful sunlight, the incredible fury of natural color, and an aesthetic of age unwoven with socialized standards (India’s grit seems to be a part of its charm – ask any artist). My project with the autowallah drivers has been a wonderful opportunity for me to find something further than the surface.

But above the ambiguity of putting all of these elements together and finding the fill to this project’s holes has been allowing things to happen. Allowing, letting. I always used to think jumping at every opportunity was the best way to get something. But jumping and getting have been slowly replaced by the terms allowing and letting. I think it’s important to ‘seize the day!’ – and even the moment – but a lot of this trip has been about putting my trust in a higher source than my own will.

Today a lot was accomplished in filling up those holes in this project – but it all happened in a way that I couldn’t have done by just jumping at every opportunity I saw fit to photograph.

Technicalities – and I’m sorry for those who this isn’t clear to: A few photographic things I’m beginning to appreciate more: high f-stops, noon light, and light just after dusk. A lot of this trip I had been enjoying the blur of a very open aperture, and the crispness it offers a single depth of focus. But the clear crispness of layers with a very small aperture-opening and noon-light has been attractive. Also, where as dawn and dusk light is always pleasant to the eye – especially India’s golden touch – I’m finding myself attracted to the coldness of light right after dusk in combination with artificial street lighting. It’s interesting. You’re seeing a touch of that in the above picture of Baba (27-year-old auto-wallah driver; he’s waiting for customers right in the heart of Udaipur’s Old City.)

Anyway, lots to discover, and lots of happening this week. Thanks for being part of it…

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