© Jeremy Snell
FOUR PHOTOGRAPHERS ALONG THE GANGES RIVER
Off to India to follow the Kumbh Mela, a Hindu pilgrimage that attracts over 100 million people to central India to bathe in the Ganges River, four photographers set out to document this cultural journey through their own eyes and individual photography styles. All hailing from the United States with a mixture of cinematographic, documentary, travel and street photography backgrounds, Gabriel Flores, Joe Greer, Jeremy Snell, and Dan Tom, in collaboration with Kamalan, a cultural agency, were all bound by their love for Indian culture, a spirit for adventure, and X1D-50c cameras as their artistic tools for capturing their unique perspectives.
© DAN TOM
Please tell us a bit about yourselves.
Gabriel (GF): My name is Gabriel Flores. I was born and raised in the deep southwest in Tucson, AZ, but I’m now based in Brooklyn, NY and have lived here for over 7 years. I am a photographer/filmmaker primarily working in documentary and storytelling, focusing on real people and stories.
Joe (JG): My name is Joe Greer and I live in Brooklyn, New York. I guess I’d consider my style of photography documentary / street. However, I photograph many different things for personal or commercial work. But I honestly just enjoy photographing life.
Jeremy (JS): My name is Jeremy Snell and I am a cinematographer and humanitarian photographer. Though I am based in Brooklyn, NY, I spend most of the year traveling around the globe for work. I gravitate mostly towards portraiture.
Dan (DT): Dan Tom from San Francisco, CA and still based there. I like to travel and explore and document what’s around me. Culture, landscapes, people – hopefully the essence of a place comes through in my work.
© GABRIEL FLORES
© JOE GREER
How was the experience of traveling as a group of visual artists in India?
JG: I thought it was quite amazing. The camaraderie of this group was inspiring. To see each other work in their own way and their own approach to making photographs was inspiring and just made me want to stay out there and keep shooting.
GF: I loved it more than I expected to be honest. I’m usually anti-group trips when it comes to traveling and shooting. This trip in particular was very manageable because of the locations – India is huge and there is a lot going on visually. I did find myself pulling away from the group quite a lot. I wanted to find my own moments and be in my own space while I explored and photographed.
© JEREMY SNELL
Did having other photographers around you impact the way you approached subject matter?
DT: We all wanted to experience India/Kumbh Mela individually even though we travelled together – so for every sunrise/sunset we went out to, we'd all disperse in our own directions to keep it personal and not shoot the exact same things. If you look at all the work from the trip, it's very different which is pretty cool.
GF: I would say a lot of times when I was walking around with the group, I wasn’t shooting as much. I was reserving my cameras for the more intimate moments I had with myself and the many different environments. So, it didn't impact the way I saw subjects, but it did impact when I was shooting and when I wasn’t.
© GABRIEL FLORES
© GABRIEL FLORES
What are some of the challenges as a western photographer working in India? How did you approach your subjects?
JS: I’ve shot in India every year for the last 6 years and each trip brings its own unique challenges. I think the biggest thing as a foreigner is to have an open mind and be humble. You are a guest in someone else’s home, so don’t be arrogant. I always ask before taking someone’s portrait — usually people are more open when you approach them with humility but are also confident. The reality is, some people just don’t want their photo taken; from my experience, most are quite receptive though.
JG: I approached most of my subjects with a gentle smile. 99% of the people that I photographed in India had no issue with their picture being taken. Often times, I had people jump in front of my camera trying to get their picture taken. Honestly, out of all the places I’ve been to in the world taking photographs, India is still one of the warmest, most welcoming, and open cultures when it comes to me photographing – a big reason why I enjoy going to India. It’s a radically beautiful country and I love being able to show that beauty to the world that otherwise might not get the chance to see it.
GF: India in particular is a very open and friendly country. The best way I have found that gets my subjects’ involvement is just saying hello and simple kind gestures go a long way if there is ever a language barrier. In India, I noticed that people were very receptive to their photograph being taken but there were times when some people weren’t and I usually just follow that with more smiles and and an “ok, no problem.” I’m never too pressing when approaching somebody.
© JOE GREER
In a number of the images, the use of colour is especially vivid. What is your process in these scenarios and using mixed / natural light?
JS: I like to keep things simple when it comes to portraiture. I like single light sources and backlight. When I am looking at light and where to potentially add or modify it, I am always working with what the natural environment is giving me. From there, I’ll add my own lighting to highlight areas of the face I want the viewer to be drawn to.
JG: I mean, India is a radically colourful and vivid country. There were colours there that I’ve never even seen before. Colour played a huge role in how I composed certain frames and moments; that was the only process for me.
© DAN TOM
© JOE GREER
What was it about the Hasselblad files that lent an advantage to your work?
DT: Because each file retains so much information, you can push editing a bit further without compromising the quality of the image. I appreciate this because it's fun to experiment with colours, shadows, exposure, etc to see what you might want from an image.
JS: The files from the X1D are the most impressive thing about the camera for me. Sharpness, contrast, and colour really hold up against the larger medium format systems. They’re incredibly beautiful and sharp files.
© JEREMY SNELL
What differences did you notice capturing images with the X1D compared to cameras you usually use?
DT: The biggest difference is the image quality. The files are huge – 100MB+!
GF: When I first picked up the X1D I was skeptical because it was the first digital medium format I've shot with and the crispness of this camera can be a little intense and sometimes intimidating. After only using it for a couple days on our trip to India, I fell in love with it. Compact and easy to carry while walking for hours and hours.
© DAN TOM
© JEREMY SNELL
To know more about Gabriel, Joe, Jeremy, and Dan's journey through India with a day-by-day account produced by Kamalan, read more on their website here.
TEST THE NEXT GENERATION
X SYSTEM CAMERA
More Hasselblad storiesAll stories ⟶
THE EARTH AWAKENS
Photographer Ottavio Giannella flies with his X1D II 50C from Italy to Frankfurt and then on to Keflavík Airport in Iceland. He makes a 40-minute drive to the valley of the Reykjavík peninsula and a two-hour walk to his destination, the Fagradalsfjall eruption site.
Books, Boxes, and Museums - Exhibits Reconstructed
On the 15th of October, Dayanita Singh was presented with the 2022 Hasselblad Award by the Hasselblad Foundation. Often referred to as "the Nobel Prize" in photography, the Hasselblad Award celebrates one artist's pioneering achievements in the photographic arts and their impact on the next generation of photographers. The Hasselblad Foundation highlights Singh's unique archival work, that not only documents the lives of archives but brings about a new way to interact and experience the art of photography.
Pausing New York With the X2D
Every photographer knows about the Hasselblad brand, whether they're an amateur, enthusiast, or professional because the history of photography is on the shoulders of Hasselblad. For me, it's an investment in my career, to move to the next level. It's always important to have the right tools in the right moments to make great photographs.
Iceland in Mesmerising 100MP Detail
For me as a photographer, the X2D is what a Stradivarius violin might be for a violinist. It's the ultimate camera.
Magical Realism With The X2D
The X2D is like a camera for painters. The pictures have the taste and technical background of a painting. I almost couldn't differentiate the two because it's just so perfect. This camera produces all the data I could ever use to convey the tales I want to tell with my pictures.
Discovering his new home of Doha, Qatar through the lens of street photography, Heath Holden explored the older and more traditional neighborhoods of the historical city.
A Love Affair with Aviation on the 500C
Unable to become a pilot due to his eyesight, the young Swiss photographer and later professor of technical thermodynamics Walter Janach channeled his passion for aviation into capturing these majestic flying machines on his 500C.
Donald Michael Chambers
60 Minutes of Silence
No talking. No phones. No distractions. For 60 minutes, Donald Michael Chambers sat with each of his 30 subjects in complete silence. Once the hour began, Donald gave no direction and simply decided when to click the shutter button.
Pleating Paper into Sculptural Headwear
South African photographer Gavin Goodman had a vision to create a series influenced by traditional African headwear done with a modern and simplistic touch. Commissioning a local origami artist as a unique way to bring this vision to life, they transformed delicate paper into beautiful African-inspired sculptural objects.
Tomás Karmelo Amaya
Native Love Stories
Born for the A:shiwi, Rarámuri, and Yoeme tribes, creative Tomás Karmelo Amaya’s ongoing series Native Love Stories illustrates the abundance of Indigenous circles, including love, service to others, community strength, and the ability to thrive.