international award winning portraits by ian atkinson
Fanxipan Express Vietnam 2013Train travel is fascinating! Perhaps not your daily trudge across the city or the commute in from the suburbs but the hours upon hours spent staring out of a window when travelling from one major city to another can be intoxicating; exploring undiscovered landscapes, new countries and vibrant cultures all play their part in tantalizing and invigorating our senses.Shot during July 2013, Fanxipan Express is a project that captures these ideas to give the viewer the sense of being a part of this journey, to understand all of the idiosyncrasies of Vietnam’s single line railway system and to give an insight into the culture, personality and social interaction of the Vietnamese people and their country.When I travel on a train and see wonderful scenery flying by I always feel an urge to get off and explore, sample the local food and chat with the locals. Unfortunately we are generally on our way somewhere and the opportunity seldom allows us the freedom to just get off where we want.The aim of Fanxipan Express was to enable the viewer to have the opportunity to explore the landscape whilst experiencing what might be seen through the eyes of the passengers through a series of images that explore the very essence of the Vietnamese people, their country and traditions. The portraits and landscapes are punctuated with the sometimes less than amiable amenities, but these images build and develop the narrative and help the viewer to immerse him or herself in the journey, discovering the warmth of a wonderful people and a truly beautiful country.Ian Atkinson, 2013
Tata Taxi Photographs by Ian AtkinsonThe work looks at the life of Indian taxi drivers, focussing particularly on the iconic Ambassador taxi. Through the series of images, we see the way the lives of the drivers are intertwined with work, family and national identity as well as their diverse religious beliefs.The work is based around the lives of the Indian Tourist Taxi driver To many of the drivers this iconic vehicle it is not only a method of transportation but a shrine to their God, a place of worship, home - with none of its comforts-, a place to display proud family photo’s and emblems of national identity. These Vehicles are portraits of the very people they represent, displayed for all to see and are in-depth studies of human life in all of its intricacies.The images show a carefully selected view of the complex identity of the owner/driver, highlighting the cultural identities of the subjects, present or not and give us the viewer the opportunity to understand and revel in the communication between photographer and subject.Each image is punctuated with its individual owner whether present or not, they tell the story of a nation of many different cultures and religions. Hindus, Muslims, Christians, Sikhs, Buddhists, Jainsall represented within one single profession. Each driver and indeed Taxi have a story to tell, some tell of westerners purchasing an Ambassador and hiring a driver, after completion of their journey they hand over the keys, as a way of thank you and the prospect of a better life for its new owner.Some tell of working away from families for months at a time, the Ambassador becoming their home and probably re-enforcing this idea that the taxi becomes a shrine to family and religious beliefs. It is a home from home.The work was shot over two visits to India in September 2009 and March 2010, the first work was made in the South of the country and the subsequent visit was in the North, principally Jaipur and Delhi.
Tata trucks.Much like the Ambassador the Tata truck has become synonymous with India roads and not only from a historic and somewhat western romanticised perspective but also from a political and often deeply controversial one. The drivers are often blamed, not without some evidence for many of the accidents caused on Indian roads, their interiors are often filled with lucky charms and in one image in particular a Hindi script exclaims “Still Alive” Plate, the drivers are also often attributed to the wide spread of HIV AIDS through one of the largest road networks in the world, many of the drivers spend long periods away from their families and engage with sex workers spreading the virus from urban to rural areas. The truck stop can be a fairly lively and sometimes dangerous place to be, many of the drivers spend long periods of time awaiting repairs or phone calls determining their next destination for pick up or delivery. I found these people to be warm, welcoming and incredibly generous they would await my every return asking to see photographs from the previous days shooting and laughing at their friends posing for the camera. Much like the Ambassador these trucks are filled and emblazoned with personal and religious icons, they become a home from home resplendent in colour and decoration, relieving the boredom of countless hours on the road and time away from family and loved ones.
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Games The 2010 Commonwealth Games, which will be held in Delhi in late October, has not been without criticism. Many controversial elements of the games are documented in the press, one being the alleged use of child labour to finish the construction of vital transport and sporting infrastructure, thus bringing in to question the Games themselves.The photographs contained in this book are testament to the normal hard working Indians based around the New Delhi Railway station, itself undergoing a facelift in the district of Paharganj New Delhi.Arriving in Delhi late one evening in March, I witnessed lively commotion on the main bazaar where angry Indians were discussing a letter they had received that morning. It instructed them to demolish the fronts of their shops and restore the street to its 1960 town plan. They had three days in which to complete the building work with no government or local support, financial or otherwise. Setting about their work with hammer and chisel, they took their businesses apart brick by brick, generations of shop owners standing by watching their livelihoods make way for a two-week sports extravaganza. Each image is shot against the shuttered backdrop of a closed shop, something only ever seen in Paharganj in the very early hours of the morning; the landscapes and insets show the remnants of the shops’ façades.Ian Atkinson, 2010