My Photos of India, as Featured in the Huffington Post

I had quite a nice surprise this weekend: I discovered that several of my photos were featured in a popular HuffPo article!

My photos were posted as part of this article written by bestselling Indian author Chetan Bhagat, an English writer who pens both novels and non-fiction about contemporary India. It describes how the Western world is obsessed with old, exotic India, and not the India of 2014–a modern-day India full of technology, jeans, cyber cafes, and investment options. Mr. Bhagat has millions of Twitter followers, millions more fans, and millions of book copies sold, but he finds it hard to communicate the fact that India is a changing nation. And it’s easy to understand his point. While living in India, I felt lucky to see both sides of the spectrum, and to not only photograph them, but live in them. I spent time with farmers in the poorest of areas, used wi-fi in hip cafes, slept on concrete slabs with locals, and rode the subway in the cities. Sometimes these everday events occurred within hours of each other! There is still so much to be seen of the “old” India–the areas with no running water, mud huts, and poverty–but there is a modern-day India that westerners often ignore.

The six photos of mine that were published as part of Mr. Bhagats article are, funny enough, all about the “old” India. Even so, there are modern-day stories about each one. In the photo above, for example, the bride was the niece of my friend and co-worker. I am friends with the bride’s uncles and cousins on Facebook, and she attended the college where I spent the bulk of my time in India working. On the other hand, she had only met her groom a few times, and the wedding took place in a remote part of Rajasthan. I traveled for days with her extended family in order to reach the wedding temple. In the photo below, these kids were indeed working hard while barefoot, and they lived in extremely basic concrete and salvaged wood shanties. Yet just down the street, people lived in beautiful homes with Western toilets (believe me, that’s big), mostly reliable power, and garbage bins. No matter that these garbage bins were only emptied by cows during my entire time there; they were placed there with forward-thinking intentions. As India works toward being a modern-day society, from what I observed while living there at least, still many obstacles stand in their way. Will Modi change some of that? I suppose we’ll just have to wait and see. Read the entire article right here, and see all the featured photography of India on HuffPo’s site.

I’m delighted that my photos were showcased in such an interesting piece, and I’ve already received some thought-provoking messages from passionate Indian citizens. Please feel free to ask me any questions by leaving a comment below, or by tweeting me @AntiTourist. I’d love to hear your thoughts!

More musings from Chetan Bhagat, a man named Time Magazine’s “100 Most Influential People in the World” in 2010, can be seen here.

My photography, including a photo essay on India and plenty more travel photography, can be seen at KathrynCooperPhotography.com.

 

Come Hear Me Speak on a Travel Writing Panel in New York City

If you’re in New York City on Tuesday, June 17th, then come on down and hear me speak on a travel writing panel! My friend Debbie will be doing readings from her book on traveling in Tibet, and other folks will be doing photo talks and readings. To end out the night, several of us will share interesting stories, compare points of view, and engage in Q&A with the audience–who, at that point, will likely be full from the passed appetizers and obligatory cocktails. I’ll also have some prints on display, so please consider spending your Tuesday evening with us. I may even wear a dress. For more information, view the official Facebook invite here. Hope to see you there!

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The Southwest vs. the Northeast: Obvious and Not-So-Obvious Differences

 

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In the Southwest, folks frequently say canyon, rocks, and “gnarly outcroppings” to give a sense of scenery. Case in point: This slot canyon (above) near the Arizona/Utah border.

Conversely, in the Northeast, we frequently use words such as trees, forest, and ticks to describe the landscape. Example: This New York State lake in the height of spring (below):

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This is what scholars would call a fairly obvious difference.

Other differences between these two regions of the USA, however, are not quite so apparent. Let’s go over a few.

 

-When I gamble in the Northeast (Mohegan Sun; Foxwoods), I almost always end up losing money—to the tunes of hundreds or even thousands of pennies.

-In Vegas, I’m able to make back ten times what I gambled!

Note: I used a sample size of one. Also, in Vegas, I gambled one dollar. My winnings didn’t even cover my Pad See Ew at dinner.

 

 

-In Arizona, locals enjoy deep-fried food such as Navajo Indian Frybread (below). They take something that already has zero nutrition, and proceed to fry it, then top the whole shebang with cinnamon, sugar, honey, fruit syrups, chocolate, and other calories.

-In New York, we would never serve food like that. We believe in frying things that are already bad for you. Any street festival will provide offerings such as deep-fried Oreos, deep-fried cheesecake, and bacon. Deep-fried (below). Photo by Victor Vic

 

-In California and any states in the Southwest, Mexican food is popular and delicious. Restaurants provide complimentary topping “bars” filled with delicious taco spreads such as salsas, veggies, hot sauces, and slaws.

-In New York, Mexican eateries are run by Chinese immigrants. No one knows why this is a thing, but it is. Besides, how else would you get #29—a Chinese bean curd soft taco served with peppers, onions, and Chinese hot sauce?

 

-In the Southwest, people are friendly.

-No.

 

-In New Hampshire, vehicles travel in groups of four. IMG_5846-LRsmall-logo-2

-Same thing in Utah, actually.

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-In all of New England, there are multiple shades of green on trees, bushes, shrubs, grasses, river plants, and more.

-In California, there’s only one shade of green, and it’s sold at “medical” dispensaries.

Note: Keep the not-actually-ironic pity snickers to yourself.

 

-In California and Arizona, the sky is pink whether it’s sunrise, sunset, or in between.

-New Jersey is polluted. [photo redacted]

 

-In Arizona and Utah, lines are drawn by nature over time, and brought out in beautiful red-and-white sandstone.

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-In New York City, no one knows where to draw the line–hence why we have park-wide pillow fights that result in many smiles and even more bruises.

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-In Arizona, weather changes faster than 5,023 snaps of the fingers. The two photos below were taken while standing in the same place, but turned 90 degrees.

-In all of New England, we get approximately 5 months of snow and ice followed by 5 months of ridiculously hot summers. For a few weeks in between we usually celebrate spring and fall (below).

 

-What happens in Vegas stays in Vegas.

-What happens in Atlantic City is too depressing to even talk about.

 

In summation, you can see that these two distinct areas of our nation are different in remarkable ways. Whether it’s flora, friendliness, food, or more, we must celebrate our country’s amazing diversity. Next up: Rednecks of Arkansas vs. rednecks of Kentucky: Wal-Mart edition.

Why You Shouldn’t Be Afraid of the Dark: Night Photography Edition

Let me clear something up right away. If you are aware there’s a burgeoning ghost population, live in a high nighttime murder density population, have coyotes known to seek out human flesh specifically when it’s dark out, really feel that Sean Hannity rubs you the wrong way, don’t have a penchant for fruitcake, can’t get over the fact that white chocolate isn’t actually chocolate, or positively can’t shake the feeling that monsters are indeed in your closet—though statistically that’s only true 19% of the time—then you absolutely should feel afraid of the dark. But for those of us who realize that the darkness holds more mystery than fear, well, nighttime photography can be the most awesome thing since sliced bread.

If you’ve done night photography before, you know of the new worlds that can be discovered. If you haven’t, you should take a chance and try it sometime, for it’s so much more than photographing stars or the moon. When you turn your flashlight off and let your eyes adjust while taking short or long exposures, you realize that it’s a way to see everything with a new perspective. Everyday objects become shadow shapes. Your ears almost become supersonic, and your mind tries to trick you. The sky is incredible, and if you’ve never stood outside and stared up for at least 10 minutes, you’re missing out on realizing how small we really are—and how much of the solar system we know absolutely nothing about.

There are different techniques that can be used in night photography—long exposures, light painting, star trailing, stacking, reflecting, etc.—but instead of explaining it, I’ll post a few photos from my recent trip out west. California and Utah’s rocky landscapes in particular made for fascinating nighttime shoots, and no rattlesnakes attacked me while I was out in the desert, alone, at 2 a.m.

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