© CAPT SURESH SHARMA. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.
In November 2011, I had spent a week at the world famous Pushkar Cattle Fair, Rajasthan (India). It was a great treat to be there for a week, I consider myself lucky.
I had visited Pushkar for the first time in November 2005, when I was equipped with Canon Powershot G5 only. This time in 2011, with my Canon 5d Mk 2, fitted with fish eye lens, one 50D, I discovered that the flavour of the fair has undergone many changes silently, since 2005. There were few women folks with camel traders this year, only very few. Then the colourful turbans have gone missing and whatever came to the fair were of far lesser size. The number of photographers swelled to 50 times at least. The attitude of the camel traders has changed and they ask for money for photographs vehemently. Though, I advocate that they must be paid and I had paid where I had asked to pose for me and I was happy with the shoot.
The attitude of rookie photographers have gone from bad to worse. Especially, the ones who think the way to learn photography is - visit a shop, pay money, buy a digital SLR, catch the next train to Ajmer and land up at Pushkar. Its like having a holy dip and they all will be blessed with good photographs and they will become great photographers henceforth.
I had spent time with six units of camel traders, who were camping with their camels and then we became sort of friends. I had shared moments discussing various things, talking about culture and the changes in it, etc. Since they were camping in the open, I arranged few things with the help of my friends, brought milk to have tea with them and few other things which they asked for.
Also, I discovered that the ones who asked for money were either small time employees of camel traders (who invested money and slept in hotels) or poor traders with few camels. The flavour and the pressure of materialistic world has caught up with them as well, I think that is why they do not mind asking for money to make extra buck. There was another factor which, sort of, compelled them is this time the fair had the largest number of camels in the past ten years. Therefore, its was the game of `demand and supply', more camels and less sales per person.
Usually, these rookies assume that the camels traders are duds as they are not educated. On the contrary, they are illiterate (no doubt), but they are wise. They had one question - why do so many people click photos with such great desire, passion and put in so much of hard work. We (Deepak Wadhwa, Ayesha Wadhwa, Sanjeev Sharma and me), invested few hours explaining about the whole phenomenon, which has variety of professionals and amateurs. It took time quite some time to explain that why amateurs do photography with such passion and they descend at the camel ground before even the sunrise.
This time, I experimented few things and learnt a lot. It was a very fruitful trip.