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A journey through India

I first came to India over fifteen years ago and felt an instant kinship with the country and its mystery, culture and photographic potential. The country holds great significance for me, as it was there I decided to become a photographer.

Over the years, I’ve been interested in the relationship between people and their environment, the fragile intersection of tradition and modernity. I aim to weave cultural and political ideas with my cinematic approach. I’m not interested in sensational stories or perpetuating stereotypes; real people and their energy and passion for life fascinate me.

I had the idea for Flower Men 3-4 years ago. I had a spare day in Calcutta and went to the flower market. Flowers are an essential part of Indian culture, used in everything from temple rituals to festivals and parties – and Malik Ghat flower market is the largest of its kind. Located next to the Hooghly River, it attracts more than 2,000 sellers each day; men flock to peddle their blooms amid frantic scenes. The sellers caught my attention. They transport huge bunches of flowers on their back; sometimes it almost looks like they are wearing big flower dresses. I love this contrast between the strong and masculine men handling the flowers like precious things.

The hot and busy environment made for a challenging shoot. I wanted to create a calm space away from the bustle of the market, and it was important to me to capture the portraits on a simple background, so the sellers stand out. I encouraged the men to stand comfortably, and their poses reveal so much about their personality. These men captured my imagination. It’s both natural and surreal.

I feel that the more digitally connected we become, the more we seek out tradition and authenticity. I’m excited to create images, which are universal and transcend the barriers of language, culture and geography while making us more conscious of our past as well as our present. For me, Flower Men is a tribute to tradition.

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