On the day of the event I arrived early and made sure that I had time to speak to people. My objective was to:
1. Spend time with the widowed husband to understand what photos he would want and what (if anything) was off limits. I sought to establish a rapport, an understanding of their Hindu/Buddhist spirituality and lifestyle. Also, to onlookers I wanted to be seen to be engaging with the deceased’s husband rather than just ‘some bloke with a camera’.
2. Allow my partner to introduce me to other key people. This, along with the above point, I hoped would allow people to be less suspicious of me with a camera.
3. I learned the schedule for the day – knowing when to expect speaking, ceremonial/ritual practices, drumming, chanting and a balloon release. I made sure that i understood the practical and spiritual significance of each. This would allow me to tell an authentic story of the day and be in the right place at the right time.
4. It was clear that objects, not just people, were of significance, there being a large altar space with the deceased’s ashes as centrepiece. It would be essential to capture these details as part of telling the story.
Several hundred images were shot. The immediate task was then to remove the duff ones to give a contact sheet of viable images. This ‘first cut’ is below.
The next post will cover selection and ordering of the final set.