05/12/2019

Kushti in India

Kushti is a traditional form of Indian mud wrestling, an ancient culture where wrestlers live and train together and follow strict rules on living a pure life. Drinking, smoking and even sex are off limits.

For more pictures check out the gallery "Kushti in India".

Kushti in India

The wrestlers live, practice and sleep together in an akhara (or akhada). In Maharashtra the akharas are called talim. The akhara is a place to practice Kushti with facilities for sleeping, cooking and training. Smaller ahkaras host around 20 or 30 wrestlers, whereas big akharas form a community of up to hundred wrestlers. The age of the mud wrestlers range from seven or eight to mid-twenties. The wrestlers come from across all India. Many of them have been away from their families virtually all their life. They consider the community in the akhara as their family. Many of the boys come from poor families and Kushti is a chance to break out of the cycle of poverty.

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Traditional mud wrestlers are referred as pehlwans, the teachers in an akhara are called ustad. The athletes are not required to be vegetarians and they are allowed to eat chicken and eggs. The diet is also heavily based on crushed almonds, milk and ghee, which is referred as "khurak", the holy trinity of the wrestler's diet. In addition to it the pehlwans also eat vegetables, rice, lentils and fruit.

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03/23/2018

Street and Travel Portraits

In recent years many photographers discovered the exciting field of street and travel portraits. Street and travel portraits are associated with the genre of portrait photography and not street photography, as one might expect. For that reason, the rules for street and travel portraits are more connected to general portrait photography. As opposed to street photography, the people are aware that they are being photographed and have given their consent for the portrait. The ambition is to work out the character and the expression of the person. Street photography, on the other hand, always focuses on images at a decisive or poignant moment. Both genres combine the possibility to create a study of a particular milieu or environment. For this particular purpose the surrounding should be a major part of the composition of a street or travel portrait.

Madagascar, happy girl with fi...

Best practices

In order to create expressive and fascinating street portraits it is always helpful to know a few basic best practices. However, it is less about the composition which always depends on the creativity of the photographer. It is more about common tips and tricks to achieve natural and authentic portraits.

Search for interesting faces

The first step to get successful street and travel portraits is always the search for expressive and interesting faces. But also the selection of introverted or reserved persons can lead to extraordinary and authentic portraits. Another important step is to obtain the consent for the portrait. This strongly depends on the cultural milieu. Often a smile and showing the camera is enough. However, sometimes it is required to explicitly ask for the permission and briefly explain why you want to photograph the particular person.

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02/27/2018

The Shipyard in Old Dhaka, Bangladesh

Shipbuilding in Bangladesh has become a major industry in recent years. Bangladesh has over 200 shipbuilding companies, mostly concentrated in Dhaka, Chittagong, Barisal and Khulna. The largest and most famous shipyard in Bangladesh is the Chittagong Ship Breaking Yard.

Shipyard in Dhaka, Bangladesh

One big shipyard in Dhaka is located on the riverbank of the Buriganga River just opposite of the Sadarghat in Old Dhaka. The best way to reach the dockyard is to cross the Buriganga River at Sadarghat by using one of the numerous small wooden boats for just 5 Taka. The dockyard is open for everyone and it is very easy to roam around. The shipyard provides docks and equipment mostly for repairing and maintaining big vessels. But the workers in the yard also break down old ships as well as build new ships from scratch.

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The first thing to notice when entering the yard is that the workers are extremely kind and welcoming. They always have a friendly smile for the visitors, and sometimes the ship-owners or dockyard managers greet the visitors with a handshake. A stroll in the shipyard is always accompanied by the rhythmic and incessant sound of hammering. Countless workers equipped with a hammer get rid of the rust and old paint of the boat hulls. The constant buzz of activity on the yard includes metal cutting, welding and painting. But there are also other facilities like foundries for ship propellers and workplaces to maintain the ship engines. And there are of course the huge cable winches to drag the big vessels out of the Buringanga River on the docks.

To see all pictures take a look at the complete foto gallery "Dockyard Dhaka" in the gallery section. 

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09/22/2017

Theyyam: the ritual dance in Kerala, India

Kerala in South India has many popular traditional dance forms like Kathakali, Kutiyattam or Theyyam. Kathakali is an impressive form of classical dance and a wonderful combination of dance, drama, music and religious theme. The presentation is usually based on the Ramayana, the ancient Hindu poem about the divine prince Rama and his wife Sita. Kutiyattam (or Koodiyattam) is a form of Sanskrit theatre and one of India’s oldest living theatrical traditions. It represents a synthesis of Sanskrit classicism and reflects the local traditions of Kerala. Both art forms, Kathakali and Kutiyattam, are performed all over Kerala, but mostly in and around Kochi.

Theyyam dancer, India

Theyyam on the other hand is only found in the northern part of Kerala. The performers of Theyyam always belong to the lower caste. Like Kathakali and Kutiyattam, Theyyam is also a traditional ritual dance form. However, in Theyyam the dancers and performers not only play the deities, during the performance they lose their physical identity and finally impersonate the god and receive magical power. Therefore the blessing of the devotees is an important part at the end of a Theyyam ceremony.

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