When I was in Rajasthan this February, it happened to be the wedding season, I bumped into countless processions on the streets and what attracted my attention the most was not the glamorous ceremony or how many free food they were giving out to everyone on the street; but it was those people who were illuminating others’ happiness, with a sad face.
A focal point of an Indian wedding is the groom who will go on a procession usually on a horse back, and the whole parade will be illuminated by portable fancy lamps, which are dangerously linked and poorly connected by thin wires to a generator which follows behind.
The people who carry the lamps are often very poor, this is obvious by the ragged cloths they wear. Amongst many of them are child workers and they were poorly paid because this is a cut throat and competitive business. In a country where social class means everything, every new born child is literally classified by birth, it seems their destiny were more or less doomed.
The festive family simply didn’t care about who and how their parade was illuminated, and they haven’t been bothered to dress them up a little. On the other hand, the lamp porters probably given up hope that one day they could have a wedding like this.
Are they sad (bewildered) because of their role in the wedding or is it perhaps a reaction to the intrusion of the photographer. Don’t get me wrong I know you have good intentions, but it is presumptuous to make generalised assumptions about the attitudes and values of the subject, when the very presence of the photographer can have such a dramatic effect.
In fact, most often they smiled to me (my camera), so it’s very difficult to catch their natural expression. Different photographer receives different emotionally feed back from their subject, it’s about the way a photographer approach, but I think the most important and most photographers couldn’t fathom, is the aura of a photographer.