This time last year, Slumdog Millionaire had only been shown at select venues in North America, but was already creating buzz as something potentially very big. And the movie certainly lived up to expectations–it was a global hit, winning numerous international awards, including the 2009 Oscar for Best Film.
To a degree, Slumdog also shook up perceptions of the country in which it was set. For those of us who have never experienced India firsthand, the movie offered much more vivid or ‘real-life’ images of the country and its people than many Bollywood films or other mainstream media have so far.
Luckily, I was able to get another insight into the country recently when I came across some work by photographer Chris Morton while researching the contemporary art scene in New Zealand. The Bath House Gallery recently featured an exhibition of his work called ‘Eye Contact: Portraits in India.’
When I spoke to him, Chris, a New Zealand native, told me that he has only been doing photography professionally for about six years, but has already had numerous showings and won awards. Prior to this, Chris worked in civil engineering construction and commercial real estate investment. When I asked why he made such a radical career change, he explained that while he wasn’t entirely sure about the move, there’d been occasions in the past when he realized his passion for photography could lead to something more serious.
‘[Sometimes] I’ve made images that stood out above my other work.and made me see that perhaps I had some hidden talent,’ he told me. Combined with some praise he received from respected friends, these moments acted as ‘markers’ in his life. Now, Chris understands how important these moments were and says he thinks we should all be aware of the importance of these signals. He added that great photographic works by other people still drive him ‘to find more of what might be within me.’
Although Chris’ travels as a photographer have taken him many places, he says India has stood out for various personal and professional reasons. I’ll post more about this in the near future.