I have been to India many times in the past but never to Varanasi, one of the holy cities of India on the Ganges. Many pilgrims visit the city to bathe in its waters and to cremate or scatter the ashes of the dead in the Ganges.
Before a shoot I always check, camera sensor clean, batteries charged, spare batteries charged and packed, spare Cf card packed, check the flash and triggers all charged and working. As much as I can try and pre visualise the shot in my mind, picture how I see it composed and lit. Of course, reality is always different, but visualising something is very important to me and I find it helps.
My idea for this trip was to make a film about Varanasi and to shoot portraits of the sadhus along the banks of the Ganges. I hadn’t planned much before I went out, just my accommodation so it was all quite intuitive.
For travelling and when I know I’m shooting in bright daylight, the Quadra system is a great bit of kit. I know I can control the light in situations where Speedlight’s simply would not have enough guts to get the quality of light that I’m after in my images.
And combine that with the Elinchrom Deep Octa 70cm soft box and the light shaping possibilities are amazing. I have the light on the end of an extendable Elinchrom boom rather than a light stand, and I hired an assistant to hold the light. You can easily get someone to help show you around and speak to the locals on your behalf.
Most of the people will want payment in the region of 100-200 rupees depending on how many images you take.
To enable me to shoot at higher than sync speeds and avoid using neutral density filters, I use Pocket wizards TT5 HyperSynced. This enables me to shoot at any shutter speed.
It does mean that you lose a bit of flash power as you’re getting the tail of the flash but its still got plenty of power.
I love photographing all manner of outdoor subjects, all adventure sports as well as portraits and lifestyle work. I find studios too sterile, I rather prefer and love the drama you can get from the clouds and the mountains. All aspects of a shoot are exciting, the planning, discussing with athletes where to get the best shots, the actual shoot itself and then the editing process. The editing is a bit like Christmas as you really see the image start to take on a life and presence of its own. It’s moved from the realms of your imagination into a reality that can then be shared with other people.
That’s really a privilege to be able to do that.