In the summer of 2013 Craig Semetko was one of 10 photographers worldwide invited by Leica Camera to take part in a unique exhibition celebrating its 100 year anniversary. The photographers were paired with their artistic “fathers,” and asked to shoot a project with them in mind. Semetko was paired with iconic photographer Elliott Erwitt, and a series of circumstances conspired to send him to India to shoot the project.
Armed with a Leica Monochrom and M240, Semetko spent the fall of 2013 traveling throughout the country, visiting Mumbai, Chennai, Goa, Kolkata, Delhi, Varanasi, Jaipur, and the world’s largest camel fair in Pushkar. Serendipity was a constant companion. He tells the story of the the dog on the “Ask Yourself Who I Am” wall: “I stood looking at that wall with the writing on its face but nothing on top thinking it would make a good photo if only there were something in the upper left portion of the frame. No sooner did I have that thought than a dog appeared from my right, bounded to the top of the wall, stood exactly where I’d wanted something to be and glared at me as if to say, ‘Well, here I am, take the picture!’ Whether this was coincidence or the ‘magic’ of India I don’t know. I was just happy to be the recipient.”
Semetko felt a special connection with India and her people:
“India is a street photographer’s dream. The people are extraordinarily welcoming—they do not mind having their pictures taken, in fact, they usually welcome it…”
“I had no real agenda, I had done no research; my goal was to walk and shoot whatever presented itself that I found interesting. More often than not, I found myself attracted to scenes that looked as though they could have taken place decades ago as well as today…”
“India is a large country with an enormous population. She has immense contrasts and remarkable diversity. There is no way to convey her complexity in just a few months of photographing. I’m not sure you could do it in a few lifetimes. But I will definitely be heading back to give it a try. Perhaps in color. Or not.”
Quotes from Semetko’s Afterword of INDIA UNPOSED