Tuesday, September 6, 2011
Explore the subcontinent through the images of India’s Foreign Photographer of the Year, Fredric Roberts
When I look at the people I photograph, I see that they have a larger vision of life, a vision that transcends monetary wealth. It is about their relationship with their god, with their land, neighbors, and family. It is the power of those relationships that I want to communicate.
Roberts’ journey began when he enrolled in a photography workshop at the Santa Fe Workshops. It was 2000, and he had just retired from an enormously successful career as an investment banker. Roberts had risen to the top of the finance world, but that world had changed around him. His career was built on the values of bringing his clients to troubled businesses with the goal of building something sustaining and beneficial. He was both brilliant and passionate about it, but the industry transformed around him. In the 1980s and 1990s, investment banking morphed into an endless race for fees and ever-larger deals that often were more self-serving for the bankers than beneficial for the community. Roberts, who had previously explored his own spiritual and artistic side with a six-week journey to Asia in 1986 where he photographed the rural areas and ways of life of Buddhist monks, felt the passion for his work in high finance slipping away. By the end of the 1990s, he had decided to devote his efforts to various charitable and civic organizations in Southern California, and to his photography.
By all accounts, India is a massive assault on the senses. Visually, the colors can be overwhelming to the point of utter chaos—women in bright orange saris, the unbelievably saturated reds of Holi festivals, buildings painted indigo. Creating order from the chaos takes a trained eye. One needs to embrace the fantastic hues without being so distracted that one loses the bigger context. The story is in the people; the color is the conduit through which this unique culture flows. In his images, Roberts never loses sight of the people he’s photographing. He never sees them as mannequins for colorful garb. He uses the colors to captivate our attention and draw us in to reveal the people and the culture.
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