Glimpses from a Festival at Achanakkal (and trying to capture them!) By Shawn Stephen

Festivals in the Nilgiris are a spectacle to behold. They signify times of joy, of belonging, of good food and, perhaps most significantly, of celebration! The way the entire town pours out of their houses onto the streets, the constant lively drumming going off in the background, the trumpets to add melody and most beautifully, literally everyone flowing to the music in a happy trance, it’s difficult not to have the contagious energy rub off on you! Brightly colored saris stand out from underneath the snow-white shawls, children in sparkly dresses stream past;

Festivity’s so vivid in the air, you can almost touch it!

What’s fascinating about events like this is that there’s so much going on all around you, it is difficult to keep a track of what to capture. So you realize that you simply shouldn’t keep track… you simply go with the flow. It’s difficult to truly photograph spectacles like this when we resist becoming a part of it. It’s important to let loose and simply see where the current takes you. Once you do, everything opens up to be photographed.

Suddenly, youaren’t struggling to get to a particular point amidst the sea of people to capture a moment.Suddenly, you find yourself exactly where you need to be. It is in this space that we can trulybe ourselves in order to photograph!

In the end, as the people continue dancing and celebrating, you begin packing your gear and reflect on the shoot that was. It was all a blur but you’ve got this warm feeling inside of you and a memory card full of images that show an entire community coming together to celebrate and you had the privilege of being part of it!

Shawn Stephen

I’ve spent nearly all of my life in the Nilgiris, a beautiful hill station in the South of India. With an inherent appreciation for landscapes owing to where I’ve grown up, I found myself best able to express this appreciation through photography. Which essentially is where my journey began.

A significant milestone in this photographic journey has been spending a year studying photography and eventually graduating from Light & Life Academy at Ooty. A place that has helped evolve my application of photography as a communicative medium.

This is where I currently am, at home in the Nilgiri mountains.



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