My fascination for India continues to grow from strength to strength just like my passion for photography.  Each time I think I have experienced the most amazing encounter and that there could not be anything else more wonderful, wow and behold there facing is yet again another astonishing surprise.  The beauty and culture of India is like a bottomless pit… never ending. Being a very inquisitive individual I quickly questioned what the crowds of people and the music were in aid of, only to be told that it was a wedding.  Here I was in a rural area of Karnataka, not a tourist in sight, and a wedding taking place, too much for a photographer to miss.  Jumping out the car armed with camera and my bag of lenses I tried to discreetly position myself at a good advantage point not wanting to miss such a wonderful opportunity.  I was quickly noticed and like the waves rolling gently in the sea, I was being pushed to the front of the bridegroom’s procession and before I realised what was happening I had become part of the wedding party.  So here I am taking photographs of the wedding party but the most amusing point was the ‘wedding’ photographer taking photos of me what a turn around……… 

The joviality, smiles, laughter were infectious but nothing compared to the warmth of these wonderful people.  I was promptly invited to the wedding ceremony and although my attire was not fitting for such an important event the thought of capturing such a beautiful moment through my lens was too much to miss, so I politely accepted the invitation.  The floral head dress dominating the back of the bride was stunning. Obviously a lot patience having gone into the creation of such an ornate accessory.  It acted as a picture surround framing the various expressions that this bride was displaying throughout the ceremony.  There were fleeting glimpses of apprehension, delight, coyness, bewilderment and disbelief showing on the bride’s face and once again I found myself admiring the strength of these women.  How many weddings had I attended where the brides just gave in to their emotions, yet here I witnessed a true strength of self-control?  It was such a delight to capture these emotions and add to my portfolio ‘The Real’ Women of India. Not only was I able to portray her emotions but also the beautiful attire worn by the bride, bridegroom and their guests.  I was also excited to encapsulate some of the wedding rituals such as the pouring of milk and honey over the coconut and through the hands of the bride and bridegroom.   Throwing of rice over the married couple, the generosity of gifts given by the guests, these were breathtaking actions I was able to witness.  What an amazing experience!  Having taken some telling photographs it was time to continue on my way.  What a trip which turned out to be an unplanned wedding shoot……………  

Continuing on my travels I was amazed when I came across yet another wedding, this was turning into one lucky tour.  The crowd of guests disembarking their transport, a truck, were happy and obviously elated to be part of this special day as they purposefully made their way to the ceremony, the brightly coloured saris glistening in the sunlight.  Once again I was welcomed with open arms as I made my way towards the bride, equipped with my most precious possession, my camera.  Dressed in vibrant red the bride stood out amidst the crowds adorned with her floral head dress and garland, there was no mistaking the most important person amidst the crowds but yet again I observed a mixture of emotions just like the first bride.  The children dressed in their best clothes watched in bewilderment as the ceremonies took place. One day in the future it would be their turn.  I felt privileged to be so openly welcomed at this special day of their life and as I sat back and thought through the events, I found myself yet again amazed at the diversity of this wonderful country and the beautiful people.  

Several days later as I continued with my travels and I came upon yet again another wedding. This time the ceremony had already taken place and the wedding party and guests were enjoying the reception which was taking place in a field. The bride dressed in a white sari wearing a beautiful garland of vibrant orange flowers in her hair.  Her beautiful jewellery sparkling in the sun with the colours of the gems complimenting her outfit it was obvious that this bride had taken great pains to look her best on this distinctive day she was a delight to photograph.  Her eyes danced with laughter as she shyly fed her newly married husband with the wedding feast. Proud and amused at the same time.  Although I captured her at one point in deep thought, the uncertainty I had seen in the previous brides was not evident in this new bride.

My perception of these women living in remote rural villages is not only strength but they are also transparent, not afraid to show true feelings, how many of us try and hide our true feelings?

You can read more about my perceptions and experiences and why I choose to capture the images that I do in my travels, in further editions of Asian Photography. Please visit my website www.ellejephotography.co.uk