Take the Colour from Holi

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Take the colour from my Holi photographs and what do you see? Crowds and Congestion, yes, but also Celebration and Camaraderie.

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Black as a colour is rarely seen in India. In the caste system it is usually associated with the lowest categories of social classes, and can be viewed as unlucky. White however is recognised as the colour of peace and purity. But a scene in black and white simplifies to show detail that might otherwise have been distracted from by colour e.g. body language and context.

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Boys (left) with coloured water guns are waiting for targets. I had just run through and been soaked.  See the expressions on the faces of those behind me!

The grittiness from the colour powder that pervades the atmosphere is shown by  grain in the images – a smooth, glossy image just wouldn’t have the same feel.

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Hundreds of thousands filing through narrow alleyways.

From ground level it is difficult to get a sense of the crush of the crowd but a change of point of view shows it all. And the constant movement of the melee is shown by the blur.

Patience by the paint bucket load is required of all to keep a crowd like this calm. 

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My attendance and enjoyment of Holi was thanks to the advice and support of the small team of photographers I went with, through the organisation Luminous Journeys.  I’m grateful for the talk the night before discussing what to expect; help in protecting my camera so that no water, powder could get into the system and the watchful eye of a number of guys to make sure I did not get lost. To say I was afraid of crowds beforehand is an understatement but, with careful preparation and compassionate support, I was able to enjoy the intoxication of Holi and overcome another fear!

I have just three things to teach:

simplicity, patience, compassion.

These three are your greatest treasures.

Lao Tzu

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