A Monk’s Life

Photography is like playing the piano,where you have to do your scales.

Written by Debesh Banerjee | Published: September 11, 2013 12:15:39 am

Photography is like playing the piano,where you have to do your scales. If you don’t practice,you will not be able to create magic,” says Nicholas Vreeland,an American photographer-turned-Buddhist monk,describing how he revived his interest towards photography after becoming a full-time monk. It is this philosophy that helped him maintain his passion for photography 24 years after he left his job as a professional photographer in New York to join the Rato Dratsang monastery in Karnataka. “My brother gifted me a Nikon FM 2 camera and I would take pictures of my surroundings daily and of the daily rituals of the monastery,” says Vreeland. Some of his black-and-white photographs,taken between 1985-86,were on display as part of a group exhibition at The Inner Path festival at Azad Bhawan,till yesterday. An image shows a group of monks sitting in the courtyard having a meal while another shows a monk sitting cross-legged reading a book. The other photographers included Shefali Munjal and Jaime Leon Ros.

While Vreeland’s images were from his monastery,Ros’ images were from his travels through Southeast Asia,2007 onwards. He shows two young monks playing football in a field in Rangoon while another has a monk clicking a picture of skyscrapers from a traffic intersection. In an image shot in Dharmshala,Ros captures a saloon with the image of two monks walking being reflected against the glass. “We have a very mythical view of Buddhist monks in the West. So I thought of shooting them in their daily life and showing how they live as ordinary lives as us,” says Ros,36,who works as a photojournalist with a Spanish News Agency in Delhi.

His 21 coloured images were taken during personal visits to Cambodia,Vietnam,China,Laos and India. In contrast,Munjal,who is a travel photographer has captured monks in their monastic settings across Leh and Ladakh. Though the exhibition concluded yesterday,the images are available at Art Konsult Gallery.

For details,contact: ArtKonsult,Lado Sarai; 9811944977/41677020

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