FEATURED STORY

The Contrasts of Available Light

BY AARON CHAPMAN

Chasing Shadows through India

My Holga 135 was perfect for travelling through India…

In comparison to other film cameras, the Holga has little to no settings. Its functions encourage a point and shoot approach that sometimes results in happy accidents. Cultural interactions are assimilated the same way an image is exposed onto film. We’re provoked to press the shutter, to compress the memory to the size of our palms and remember it forever through evidence. We then place everything we learned while travelling against the grain of our own cultures. A cross process.

I was snap happy in India but it took me the better part of a year to develop the film and realise what the images represented: India’s ability to transform a person. It changed me. I know it seems cliché but India is and always will be a place associated with finding oneself.

My knowledge of India was based on Gregory David Robert’s Shantaram and Wes Anderson’s The Darjeeling Limited. Both portrayed a landscape where spiritual journeys take place in those willing to accept that fate is wild. My other knowledge of India was disconcerting. My girlfriend and I were packing for a three-month trip around the sub-continent, the decision unfortunately coinciding with the gang raping and subsequent death of a British tourist in Delhi and the hospitalisation of her boyfriend. Preconceptions were being shaped to that of mainstream media. India was a dark shadow we were chasing. “We’ll be careful,” we reassured our mothers before leaving. Bad things happen everywhere.