The photographs in this book were taken in three places in north India--the state of Gujarat and the cities of Varanasi and Mussoorie--during the spring of 2008. I was traveling with my daughter, Susie. I was seventy and she forty, in a once in a lifetime 70/40 trip together.
I took a great number of photographs of many kinds, but these are all closeup, eye to eye, portraits. They are what happens when an elderly, rotund American man is touched in the gut or the groin, not a cerebral process, by people who dazzle him. In bad Hindi I nudged those that touched me into places where the background and light were right and then did my dance to elicit a response. Then I took many shots, depending upon luck for the photograph that touched me most.
And what were these strangers thinking? If in villages where I was with Indian development workers whom they trusted, they didn’t mind having their photographs taken. In the cities these total strangers were used to photography although rarely had been photographed themselves. But it was always an odd encounter. When I promised a copy, which I always delivered, they were glad to have photographs they could put on a wall or in the cellophane leaved books which every Indian family has.
These photographs are the record of our brief dance together, eye to eye, in which I shared my passion and they shared the force of their special presence and we had a brief bantering good time.
I grew up in India where my parents were Presbyterian agricultural missionaries and have taught at Warren Wilson College most of my life. My photographs are of north India and Sri Lanka where I have traveled many times; of Germany, which is my wife, Kathe's, home; and of the Swannanoa Valley and Asheville, North Carolina and of students and staff at Warren Wilson College, in Swannanoa just outside Asheville. Lately I have also been photographing weddings at Hidden River Events.