Photo 01 - An Indian woman is carrying bamboo in Varanasi. It is one of the oldest continuously inhabited cities in the world and the oldest in India.
Pictures and stories - Into the heart of India
Kristian Bertel (born 1980) and his photographic work has led him to travel across four Indian states to discover a myriad of people and cultures in India. India, the land of cultures, traditions, diversity and beauty has made him focus primarily on people and the portrait. He is always looking for a moment and experience etched on a person’s face and for him photography is about wandering and exploring human stories.
Heritage, fascinating religions and ethnography
India's culture and heritage are a rich amalgam of the past and the present. This vast country offers the visitor a view of fascinating religions and ethnography, a vast variety of languages with more than 438 living languages, and monuments that have been present for thousands of years. As it opens up to a globalised world, India still has a depth of history and intensity of culture that awes and fascinates the many who visit there.
Culture by religious and spiritual themes
India's rich and multi-layered cultures are dominated by religious and spiritual themes. While it is a mistake to assume that there is a single unified Indian culture, there certainly are unifying themes that link the various cultures. India's cultural heritage is expressed through its myriad of languages in which much great literature and poetry has been written. It can be seen in its music - both in its classical (Carnatic and Hindustani) forms and in modern Bollywood music. India also has a vast tradition of classical and folk dances. Art and theatre flourish amongst the bustling cities of the country, against the backdrop of the ever expanding western influences.
Indians value their family system a lot. Typically, an Indian's family encompasses what would be called the extended family in the West. It is routine for Indians to live as part of the paternal family unit throughout their lives - i.e. sons live together with their parents all their lives, and daughters live with their parents till they get married. The relationship is mutually self-supporting. Parents may support their children for longer than is common in the West, brothers and sisters may support each other, and sons are expected to take care of their parents in their old age. "Living with parents" does not carry the same stigma as it does in the US. Naturally, the arrangements are not perfect and there are strains and breakups, especially by the time the third generation grows up. Also, it has now become common for children to move away from the parental house for education and employment. Nonetheless, it is fair to say that the joint family is still seen as the norm and an ideal to aspire to, and Indians continue to care about their family's honour, achievements and failures even while they are not living together.
Photo 02 - Traffic in Varanasi, India. In many ways Varanasi epitomizes the very best and worst aspects of India, and it can be a little overwhelming.
Despite the weakening of the caste system, India remains a fairly stratified society. Indians care more about a person's background and position in society than is the norm in the individualist US. This attitude, when combined with the legacy of colonial rule, results in some rather interesting, if unfortunate consequences. People with white skin are placed high on the societal totem pole. People with dark skin, however may find that they are discriminated against. If it is any consolation, Indians display similar prejudices based on skin colour and ethnicity among themselves and not just towards foreigners.
Photo 03 - Man in India.
Kristian Bertel works as a freelance photographer and is available for editorial and NGO assignments. NGOs are organizations that work in many different fields, but the term is generally associated with those seeking social transformation and improvements in quality of life. Development NGOs are the most highly visible sector, and includes both international and local organizations, as well as those working in humanitarian emergency sector.
International aid and voluntary donation
Many are associated with international aid and voluntary donation, but there are also NGOs that choose not to take funds from donors and try to generate funding in other ways, such as selling handicrafts or charging for services. For further information and inquiries please contact the photographer
Photo 04 - Banner to Photographers Who Blog.
Photo works by the photographer
See more work by the photographer on his website.