It was in 2001 that Egyptian photographer Ashraf Talaat visited India for the first time, and since then, he has made 16 trips to the country, making it almost an annual ritual. Having visited and taken pictures in 52 countries, Talaat says no country "inspired" him more than India. "India is the most inspiring country. I took so many photographs there...more than any other country," he says. The photographer, who works with the National Geographic Magazine, was speaking at a recently held seminar on the sidelines of an exhibition -- "Colours of India" at the Egyptian Centre for International Cultural Cooperation in Zamalek.
"The north of India was a rich area for me as a photographer," said Talaat, whose photography expedition ranged across the colourful cities of Jodhpur and Jaipur in Rajasthan. The exhibition also features works by photographers Mona Abdel Karim, Ahmed Hayman and Ayman Gamal Eldin. While Abdel Karim captures moments of Indian cultural celebrations in different venues across Egypt, Hayman's pictures draw parallels between the lives on the streets of India and his homeland.
Hayman who ventured into Chandni Chowk in Old Delhi, documented the quintessential elements of the bazaar like the spice market, and tuk-tuk drivers. With the wide range of subjects that the market has to offer, Hayman admits he was spoilt for choice. "It was a challenge to take pictures in India. Everything is worth a photograph... there are so many colours and characters.
"I had to absorb everything and then decide what I wanted to photograph," the photojournalist said. Albeit Abdel Karim's collection is dominated by photographs clicked in Egypt, the editor of Sawtulhind magazine calls India a "heaven for photographers". "India has countless cultural colours as it features different art forms like dance, music and cinema.
It is undoubtedly a heaven for photographers," she said. Eldin, founder of 'View finders photography club," however, chose to shine a light on the "essence" of the country's people and places by clicking India in monochrome. "It was a daring decision to take photos of the 'country of colours' in black and white," the freelance photographer said. Also attending the seminar was Sanjay Bhattacharya, India's Ambassador to Cairo, who called the show, "very exciting", as he praised the way the photographers reflected India in their works.