One of the things that I have struggled the most as an introvert is approaching people. Be it asking for a direction, starting a conversation or even ordering the food in a restaurant … If I have an option to avoid the situation- I will! Always.
Now, when it comes to photography, this behavior doesn’t matter while clicking landscapes or wildlife. But when it comes to clicking portraits there are two problems. First, I find it very rude to click a non candid portrait without the person’s permission and secondly, I lack the guts to approach the person to ask for a permission. So most of my travel portraits are either candid or clicked when the other person showed interest in getting clicked after seeing a big camera.
While traveling to Tawang, I decided to break out of my shell and approach people for photos. Because honestly, I fell in love with the people of Arunachal Pradesh with every passing mile.
Of course, I went back in my shell after a few unimpressive attempts.
The people in these Tibetic parts of the state mostly belong to the Monpa community. These people are as beautiful as their land. They are extremely warm, welcoming and beaming with some inexplicable contentment. There is an interesting blend of population still following the traditional lifestyle and the one adapting to modern lifestyle. With tourism and access to technology, the lives in these parts are changing faster than ever. Most people here understand English / Hindi so communication is not a problem. For some reason, many of them especially from the young generation are fascinated by Mumbai. As is the case with most of the north eastern communities, the society follows matriarchal system here. The women can be seen doing every possible work many of which are often considered as men’s tasks. Our urban minds accustomed to patriarchal norms shuddered when we saw our luggage carried to our rooms by teenage girls. However for them, it is as natural as cooking or cleaning.
It was an extremely enriching experience to observe, interact and photograph these lovely souls. I hope these portraits bring a smile on your face as they do for me!
If you have any tips of striking a conversation with strangers on a strange land then please share them in the comments below! I am all ears! 🙂