Slow Travel and Symbolism


An interview with Yasmin Mund


Yasmin Mund won our recent theme ‘Six Continents’ with her gorgeous image ‘Rooftop Dreams, Varanasi’, taken while she was travelling through India. It has everything you could want from a travel image, transporting the viewer to a location full of cultural information, with arresting framing and vibrant colours. It’s both chaotic and peaceful at the same time – busy and yet still – which gives a lovely dichotomy. As a viewer, it’s an image that you can immediately appreciate but also spend a long time exploring.

We sat down with Yasmin to ask her more about the image, as well as her travels across the world, how her multi-disciplinary design education has affected her photography, and the concept behind slow journalism.

(Banner image L’Hotel Agay, 2015)


Hi Yasmin – Firstly, congratulations on winning Life Framer month 9 with a magical, memorable image. Can you tell us a little more about it?

Looking at the photograph now, yes it is a memorable image and captures a lot. Not necessarily about India but about humanity.

It’s interesting, because at the time I was traveling India and had been there for two months when I took Rooftop Dreams.

I captured this photograph because it was of the everyday. It wasn’t unusual, in fact I myself had slept on a few roofs during my trip as it was high Indian summer and the buildings hold so much heat from the day time it becomes too hot and stuffy during the night to sleep comfortably even with air conditioning.

It wasn’t until a month or two later when I was in Europe that I looked back at the image and saw that it had captured a magic kind of beauty that said something. But at the time I didn’t realise it was so special.

The story of me first seeing this sight was when I first arrived in Varanasi off an overnight sleeper train. I got to my guest house and instinctively climbed the seven flights of stairs to the rooftop to watch the sunrise over the Gangas river. On almost every rooftop around the one I was on were people sleeping soundly and peacefully in the early morning.

In hindsight the image visually represents me and as photographer quite well. I have been obsessed with sleep and dreams for some time, and I undertook a year-long research project called ‘Not To Sleep, But To Dream’ that visualised 12 universal dreams. I usually try and photograph things on flat angles, colour palette is a huge factor in my photography and when I photograph people I like them to be natural and candid.

It’s already won a few awards – why do you think it connects with so many people?

I think it connects with people because of the humanity that can be seen. It’s also an unusual angle to see people sleeping, we almost never get a chance to see someone sleeping from above – it’s usually from the side. Because of the angle the shape of the bodies can be seen and the closeness of the figures signifies love, family and connection to one another.

People empathise and connect with the situation, because everybody sleeps, it’s a human practice. The image has frozen a moment in time that although common in India, is not so common around the world.


Rooftop Dreams, Varanasi, 2015