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Portrait of a man outside Varanasi, Uttar Pradesh, India.

Kristian Bertel recalls: On the outskirts of the city of Varanasi, a house with an amount of bicycles appeared. This man portraited, is considerably one of the many day laborers, who earn their money by working as bicycle drivers.

Capturing a portrait in India
He is standing in front of the doorway of the house, completely silent. There is something modest in his eyes, an apalling look of surprise and awareness. This picture by the photographer, is one of many photographs, that stand as a benchmark of portrait photography from his Indian series. What makes this photo distinctive is the sudden and the immediate facial expression.

People of a village in India
People of all castes within a village address each other by kinship terms, reflecting the fictive kinship relationships recognized within each settlement. In the north, where village exogamy is important, the concept of a village as a significant unit is clear. When the all-male groom's party arrives from another village, residents of the bride's village in North India treat the visitors with the appropriate behavior due to them as bride-takers, men greet them with ostentatious respect, while women cover their faces and sing bawdy songs at them. A woman born in a village in India is known as a daughter of the village while an in-married bride is considered a daughter-in-law of the village.

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A man is resting on a stairway in Delhi, India.

Scene from a stairway in Delhi, India
While residents in the surrounding buildings are sweeping the street, this man is sleeping on a stairway next to a pile of garbage. When one looks closer at him, the dirt on his coat reveals a hard life on the street.
As a pillow towards the stone, he uses his bare hand to give himself the comfort he can get on the stairway. The photo is captured in the morning time in the Karol Bagh area of Delhi and the photo is a part of a series of Indian photos taken by the photographer. Even more than 50 years after independence from almost two centuries of British rule, large scale poverty remains the most shameful blot on the face of India. The pictures have the purpose to reveal and tell stories of lives in India.

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Cows in the field in India.

Picturing the rural parts of India
Further, the increased involvement of villagers with the wider economic and political world outside the village via travel, work, education, and television; expanding government influence in rural areas; and increased pressure on land and resources as village populations grow seem to have resulted in increased factionalism and competitiveness in many parts of rural India.

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Outside one of the primitive houses of the village in India.

Stories told in pictures and photography
"- My generally philosophy is to strive to be original in my approach to taking pictures. My aim is to tell a story and to make the viewer connect or identity with that particular image. It could be anything, from a young woman with a striking, haunting face, to idle landscapes in remote regions of Rajasthan. I think that there is beauty in the most mundane things - it's reavealing it that's the key. It's all about making my ideas for a photo happen", the photographer says.

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Family members in one of the small streets of the village in India.

The solidarity of a village
The solidarity of a village is always riven by conflicts, rivalries, and factionalism. Living together in intensely close relationships over generations, struggling to wrest a livelihood from the same limited area of land and water sources, closely watching some grow fat and powerful while others remain weak and dependent, fellow villagers are prone to disputes, strategic contests, and even violence. Most villages of India include what villagers call 'big fish', prosperous, powerful people, fed and serviced through the labors of the struggling 'little fish'. Villagers commonly view gains as possible only at the expense of neighbors.

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Goats supply families with milk.

Photographing village life in India
Kristian Bertel's photographs often portray village life. "- Village life in India is simple. The village folk not only dress simply, but also display simplicity in their meals and work life. In spite of regular migration of youth to cities and townships, the population directly involved in agriculture remains constant and dedicated to the cause", the photographer says. He works as a photographer and he is available for editorial assignments all over Europe, Asia, Africa and in the Middle East. For further information and inquiries please:
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More photographs from India
If you are interested to see more photos and imagery from India, you can see one of the slideshows, which also appears on the photographer's website.
See the slideshow | press here

EISA - European Imaging and Sound Association