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Amanda Fordyce India
IndiaPhotography Amanda Fordyce

These striking photos capture a beautiful energy in India

Photographer Amanda Fordyce shares a travel diary that takes us from Kochi to Mumbai

With summer almost over, we asked some globe-trotting photographers to share their visual diaries with us. See more here

When Australian-born photographer Amanda Fordyce spoke to Dazed Digital last year, she had recently spent time with youth communities in modern-day Cuba. To a young person from the western world, the photos she brought back might have resembled souvenirs from a bygone era, an analogue universe in which mobile phones would look like anachronisms; and yet in all her portraits, it was the striking, timeless spirit of adolescence that shone through. This year, the photographer has been to Kochi and Mumbai, and again the people and metropolitan landscapes she has captured uncover a city that appears to hold no fixed place on our own recent timeline.

“They have retained their customs and traditions while also integrating to become one large harmonious community” – Amanda Fordyce

As Fordyce recalls, “what I saw and felt in India, is the importance of family, friendship, and religion, things I have noticed slowly fading in the western world. India is on the cusp of so much change but they work hard at holding their traditions and cultural identity.” In her photos, we see bustling streets where contemporary clothes mingle with traditional and religious dress, where Coca-Cola and Pepsi logos emblazon the walls, and groups of boys dart by in the blurred slipstreams of polished motorbikes. “What intrigued me and what I admired the most about Kochi is the diversity of ethnicities and religious communities living in harmony side by side,” the photographer explains. “They’ve been around for centuries, and have retained their customs and traditions while also integrating to become one large harmonious community.”

“Kochi is also progressive regarding gender equality and sees value in bringing the transgender community to the mainstream,” Fordyce continues. “We spent some time with a group of transgender women who were struggling to find desirable jobs. They are an incredible group of women, driven and outspoken, they allowed us into their homes and we saw their daily struggles.”

Eye contact and a strong connection with the subject are recurrent features of the photographer’s work, and these unexpected and intimate connections with small groups and individuals are often the most striking element to her photos. “Sometimes it’s more about the moment than the actual picture,” she explains. “We got invited into people’s homes, into the heart of Mumbai’s slums, spent time with a family of drum makers in the forests of North Kerala, to wedding celebrations, so many intriguing places all because of my camera.”

Fordyce describes her approach as “always spontaneous”, but her images often resemble the composition of a meticulously planned painting. She doesn’t photograph any of the cities’ recognisable landmarks but chooses to reveal the élan vital of India by focusing on its people and vibrant palette of colours, the blues and greens of Kochi’s streets brought out through her lens like splashes and paroxysms of paint.

Ever the restless flâneur, the photographer is already considering where to explore next. “I like being surrounded by the unknown,” she explains. “I have a never-ending list of places I want to explore, but for now I need to see more of India, I want to get a little deeper.”