Towards the end of my two month placement at the AFP Delhi picture desk I went around the bureau asking my colleagues where I should visit to round off my stay in India. Nearly everyone agreed that Ladakh was the place and I knew it was going to be a great trip when the same people who advised me to go said how excited for me they were when I told them I had booked my tickets.
My mate Badris was kind enough to let me sleep at his place the night before my departure and stayed up most of the night helping me get my things packed. After stuffing as much camera gear into my bag as possible he looked at me with a puzzled look and said ‘dude, just take your Hasselblad’. He had a point, but I was just too used to being able to shoot as many pics as possible on my CF cards and I also had the idea that I would shoot a load of footage whilst I was there. Somewhere in my imagination lay an award winning documentary that I would spend all my time there filming and editing on my laptop. What a holiday eh…
What he said took me back a bit as it went against everything I had been working on for the past few months. I wouldn’t be able to file any of my pics if they were 120 film scans and it would take way longer to actually make the frames. But his suggestion lifted a weight off my shoulders and I swiftly unpacked all the lenses, cards, camera body, batteries, video loop, microphone, leads, laptop… All I was left with was a metal tank of a camera with a standard 80mm lens and a bag of film that my other work mate and boss Findlay had kindly given me the previous month.
The trip was amazing and I would go as far to say that the experience was life changing. This was partly due to me having to find places that I could connect to wifi to apply for my current job, which was an adventure in itself at times!
I kept noticing the undeveloped films in the fridge over the past few months that have passed since that trip and I finally took a some to a shop to get processed a few days ago. This portrait was taken at Hemis Monastery, about an hour’s drive from Leh. The apprentice monk pictured presented me with a hot mug of milk tea, glanced at my camera, perched himself on a gas canister, gazed into the lens and then lept up and sprinted off towards his friends a couple of seconds after I clicked, shouting “Thankyouuuu” at the top of his voice, mixed in with the slapping of his flip flop soles against the monastery grounds as his red scarf flapped behind him in the wind.
Massive thanks go to Findlay and Badris for their guidance, advice, support and friendship during my time in Delhi and beyond. To Findlay for the initial idea of visiting Ladakh and the bag of films and to Badris for convincing me to take the Hasselblad as well as his climbing shoes, jacket, socks, blood thinner for the crazy altitudes and for letting me use his flat to stay during my last few days in Delhi.