Notes from a nomad’s diary: Photographer documents Odisha’s Dongria Kondh people in photo travelogue

Photographer Vinodh Baluchamy’s photo travelogue is a fruits of 10 years of labor, that includes pictures from his days in Odisha’s Niyamgiri Hills to turtle walks in Chennai

It started as a quest for Olive Ridley turtles.

Documentary and wedding ceremony photographer Vinodh Baluchamy discovered himself at Neelankarai seashore one evening in 2010, with digicam in hand. He was documenting a turtle stroll by the moonlit sands. In the next months, he travelled all the best way as much as a mountaintop village in Odisha, assembly, befriending, and capturing the Dongria Kondh people, a native neighborhood dwelling in the Niyamgiri Hills. He has documented his journey in Yaathriganin Paadhai (Thannaram Publications), a photo travelogue which was launched just lately.

The ebook, whose title interprets to ‘A Traveller’s Path’, options pictures from Vinodh’s travels between 2010 and 2020, woven along with his minimalist writing in Tamil. The highlights although, are the pictures, and the general temper and colourscape of the collection: of earth and dirt.

Vinodh, who is predicated in Tiruvannamalai, says this was intentional. “My purpose was to keep everything subtle,” he says. “My writing too, is more like a gentle voice-over that guides readers through the story and photos.”

Train travels; tea-fuelled conversations with people whose native language he didn’t know a phrase of; villages with lyrical names deep inside forests; endearing characters like little Bommu, an Adivasi boy; meals of rice, dal, tubers, onions, and peppers…we get to see snatches of the Kondh people’s lives via Vinodh’s eyes.

In the backdrop of their on a regular basis lives, rituals, and tradition, he additionally speaks of a battle they struggle with mining big Vedanta. In 2004, the corporate arrange an alumina refinery at a village on the foothills of Niyamgiri. Bauxite is a uncooked materials for alumina and aluminium, and Niyamgiri is understood for its wealthy bauxite reserves. In truth, photo tales equivalent to his contributed to drawing world consideration to their points.

Real stories Vinodh (below) initially planned on putting together his photo series in a handmade book special arrangement

Real tales Vinodh (under) initially deliberate on placing collectively his photo collection in a handmade ebook particular association
| Photo Credit: Vinodh Baluchamy

Vinodh’s phrases are extra like diary entries. His pictures converse of the heat and belief he received from his topics, lots of whom smile into his digicam.

He documents girls with ornate nostril rings and hairclips, little boys consuming from a stream, village festivals and dances — all of the whereas studying a valuable life lesson: “Nature is best appreciated when seen from up close”.

Back residence from the hills, Vinodh utilized for the Angkor Photo Festival & Workshops, an annual photo competition held in Cambodia. He even obtained an entry into it the identical 12 months. The ebook carries snippets from his Cambodia days as effectively. “The book took shape last year, and ironically for a work on travel, it has come out at a time when people are stuck at home,” says the 36-year-old over telephone.

From ‘Yaathriganin Paadhai’

Vinodh’s preliminary plan was to compile a handmade ebook. He had learnt cyanotype printing from a buddy, which got here in useful. “I hand wrote the text and the photos were reproduced using cyanotype,” he says.

He meant it to be one thing that readers handed on from one individual to a different throughout their travels. “It is available in print thanks to a few friends who made me realise that a printed version would do the subject justice,” he explains.

‘Yaathriganin Paadhai’

Vinodh went again to Niyamgiri in 2017 to share prints of the pictures with people there. Babies he clicked then had been now little women, and a few of them didn’t imagine that the individual in the photo was them. And as for his outdated buddy Bommu, he got here again with out assembly him. Vinodh seemed in every single place for him, however couldn’t discover him.

Yaathriganin Paadhai is out there on

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