15 December 2017

Having a Nose for Indian Jewelry

Nose jewelry is most commonly associated, since ancient times, with women from the Indian subcontinent. The ornaments are attached through a piercing (i) on the (left) side of the nostril, or (ii) through the nasal septum which separates the left and right nostrils. Nose piercing is the second most common variety of piercing after earlobe piercing.

(i) In India, like any other jewelry, nostril piercings and nose jewelry (e.g. studs, loops) are regarded as a mark of beauty and social standing as well as a Hindu's honor to Parvati, the goddess of marriage. The piercings are often an integral part of the Indian wedding jewelry. As is the case with many areas of life, size matters...

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(ii) Septum piercing is popular in the countryside of the Indian subcontinent. In India such piercing is often called nathori and common with many Adivasi tribes. Generally, many types and sizes of jewelry and rings are worn in the septum piercing, such as a variety of ordinary metal rings (sometimes with attached gems), captive bead rings and circular or curved barbells. Septum piercings are often combined with nostril piercings, e.g. with many Adivasi tribes in Odisha.

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High-res portrait photographs with exif data, geotags and technical details in Matt Hahnewald's

”...and will as tenderly be led by th' nose; as asses are...”
(acc. to William Shakespeare: Othello)

30 November 2017

Meeting Meithei Mothers at Their Market

Imphal, the capital city of the north-eastern Indian state of Manipur, is home to the Meithei people, who despite their own interesting version of Vaishnavism, remain resolutely independent in their thinking. Manipur’s matriarchal society means that women do most of the work and champion political causes. As Manipuri men were mostly fighting in wars with the Chinese and Burmese, Manipuri women shouldered the responsibility of supporting their families.

At the heart of Imphal, the fascinating Khwairamband Bazaar aka ima keithel (Engl.: Mother’s Market) is run by more than three thousand Meithei women, selling everything from edible insects, locally grown fruits and vegetables to colorful, traditionally crafted handloom and handmade jewelry, and making it the largest of its kind in Asia. Historic instances suggest that the all-women ima keithel has been part of Manipuri tradition since the 16th century CE. Established in a bygone era, the stalls, shops or arcades are handed down to the women of the family, generation by generation, and the inheriting mothers continue to follow the unwritten rules, thus, also making the marketplace traditionally stronger.

In January 2016, Manipur was hit by a severe earthquake which shattered some permanent structures in Imphal’s unique Mother’s Market. The quake had occurred at a time when the women hadn’t started their day yet. So, it did shake up their shops but their spirits stayed resilient to rebuild them.

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"A good snapshot keeps a moment from running away."
(Eudora Welty)

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More portrait photographs with exif data, geotags and other specs in Matt Hahnewald's

25 November 2017

Being Nosey in Ziro Valley

The Apatani, or Tanw, also known as Apa and Apa Tani, are an interesting tribal group of c. 60,000 people living in the Ziro Valley in the Lower Subansiri district of Arunachal Pradesh in Northeast India. Their language belongs to the Sino-Tibetian family (Tani languages).

The Apatani, one of the major ethnic groups of the Eastern Himalayas, are a distinct culture with systematic land-use practices and rich traditional ecological knowledge of natural-resources management and conservation, acquired over the centuries through informal experimentation. The tribe is known for its animistic sun-and-moon religion (Donyi-Polo), intricate handloom designs, skills in cane and bamboo crafts, vibrant traditional village councils called bulyañ, and facial tattoos (broad blue lines from the forehead to the tip of the nose and five vertical stripes under the lower lip on the chin) and black wooden nose plugs aka yaping hullo, lodged in the sides of their noses, of their elderly women. The tattooing procedure involved using thorns to cut the skin and soot mixed in animal fat to fill in the deep blue color. The wounds were then allowed to get infected so that the tattoos became larger, darker and clearer. That practice reportedly started because the women wanted to look unattractive to males from neighboring tribes. It’s a dying tradition, which has not been practiced since c. 1970 CE. Now it is only the elderly women of the tribe who bear the physical hallmarks of a bygone era, providing a hint at the fascinating history of the Apatani tribe...


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"This world is full of the most outrageous nonsense.
Sometimes things happen which you would hardly think possible."
(Nikolai Gogol: The Nose)

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matt hahnewald photography; facing the world; character; face; tattoo; face tattoo; tribal tattoo; eyes; nose; nose plugs; lived-in face; wrinkles; facial expression; eye contact; consent; empathy; emotion; respect; ethnic; traveling; tribal; adivasi; rural; village; traditional; cultural; hong; ziro; arunachal pradesh; northeast india; asian; indian; apatani; one person; female; adult; old; woman; picture; photo; illustrative editorial; face perception; physiognomy; educational; nikon d3100; nikkor af-s 50mm f/1.8g; prime lens; 50mm lens; nifty fifty; 4x3 aspect ratio; horizontal orientation; street; portrait; closeup; headshot; full-face view; outdoors; color; posing; authentic; unique; yaping hullo; yesso; shutterstock; smiling; rapport

matt hahnewald photography; facing the world; character; face; tattoo; face tattoo; tribal tattoo; eyes; nose; nose plugs; lived-in face; wrinkles; facial expression; eye contact; consent; empathy; respect; dignity; ethnic; traveling; tribal; adivasi; rural; village; traditional; cultural; hong; ziro; arunachal pradesh; northeast india; asian; indian; apatani; one person; female; adult; old; woman; picture; photo; illustrative editorial; face perception; physiognomy; educational; nikon d3100; nikkor af-s 50mm f/1.8g; prime lens; 50mm lens; nifty fifty; 4x3 aspect ratio; horizontal orientation; street; portrait; closeup; headshot; full-face view; outdoors; color; posing; authentic; unique; yaping hullo; yesso; shutterstock; rapport; serious


"In black and white there are more colors than color photography,
because you are not blocked by any colors
so you can use your experiences, your knowledge, and your fantasy,
to put colors into black and white."
(Anders Petersen)

matt hahnewald photography; facing the world; character; face; tattoo; face tattoo; tribal tattoo; eyes; nose; nose plugs; lived-in face; wrinkles; facial expression; eye contact; consent; empathy; emotion; ethnic; traveling; tribal; adivasi; rural; village; traditional; cultural; hong; ziro; arunachal pradesh; northeast india; asian; indian; apatani; one person; female; adult; old; woman; picture; photo; face perception; physiognomy; educational; nikon d3100; nikkor af-s 50mm f/1.8g; prime lens; 50mm lens; nifty fifty; 4x3 aspect ratio; horizontal orientation; street; portrait; closeup; headshot; full-face view; outdoors; posing; authentic; unique; yaping hullo; yesso; shutterstock; smiling; black-and-white; monochrome; greyscale


I usually do my photo tours solo. However, this time I was lucky to team up and play ball with Japanese photographer Rie Shiina who tremendously helped me to establish close rapport with the traditional Apatani women. Paya aro pacho, Rie!

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More portrait photographs with exif data, geotags and other specs in Matt Hahnewald's

28 September 2017

Emancipating Hindu Spirituality

In Hinduism, a sādhu is a religious ascetic or holy person. The sādhu is solely dedicated to achieving spiritual liberation aka mokṣa, the fourth and final aśrama (stage of life), through meditation and contemplation of BrahmanSādhus often wear saffron-coloured clothing, symbolising their renunciation aka sanyāsa (renunciation of worldly possessions).

A female mendicant in Hinduism is often called a sādhvī, or sometimes (especially in Jainism) an aryika. The Sanskrit term sādhvī ("good or virtuous woman") refers to female renouncers who have chosen to live lives apart from or on the edges of society to focus on their own spiritual practices. It is also thought that the austere practices of the sādhvī help to burn off their karma and that of the community at large.
Female sādhus aka sādhvīs exist in many sects and their lifestyles vary among the Hindu sects. In many cases, the women that take to the life of renunciation are widows, and these types of sādhvīs often live secluded lives in ascetic compounds. Others start following their spiritual path as teens or twens and follow the sadhana through organized groups. Women are said to make up c. 5 - 10 percent of those on the sādhu/sādhvī path. Sādhvīs, like their male counterparts, devote their lives to deep meditation, a particular god, yoga and spiritual discussion and other related practices. Sādhvīs may be yoginis (and often are), but yoginis are not necessarily sādhvīs.

Sādhvīs are sometimes regarded by some as manifestations or forms of a goddess, or devi, and are honoured as such. There have been a number of charismatic sādhvīs that have risen to fame as religious teachers in contemporary India (e.g. Anandamayi Ma, Sarada Devi, Mata Amritanandamayi). A few Hindu sects do not permit sādhvīs for fear the celibate sādhus would be corrupted. There are also cases of physical exploitation and sexual abuse of sādhvīs (e.g. India Today of Aug 26, 2017).

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"The demand for equal rights in every vocation of life is just and fair;
but, after all, the most vital right is the right to love and be loved."
(Emma Goldman)

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Portrait photographs (with exif data, geotags and other specs) of male sādhus in Matt Hahnewald's

Portrait photographs (with exif data, geotags and other specs) of sādhus from Nepal in Matt Hahnewald's

Portrait photographs (with exif data, geotags and other specs) of sādhus from Varanasi in Matt Hahnewald's

20 August 2017

Nostalgifying Portraits with Sepia

Toning is a method of changing the colour of black-and-white photographs. In analog photography, it is a chemical process carried out on silver-based photographic prints. Most toners work by replacing the metallic silver in the emulsion with a silver compound, such as silver sulphide in the case of classic sepia toning, which gives a black-and-white photographic print a brownish, "warmer" tone and enhances its archival qualities. Beginning in the 1880s, sepia tone was originally produced by adding a pigment made from the Sepia cuttlefish to the positive print of a photograph taken with any number of negative processes. Nowadays, toning can be simulated digitally, either in-camera or in post-processing. The in-camera effect often uses just a simple tint. More sophisticated software like Adobe's Photoshop tends to implement sepia tones using its duotone feature.

Sepia photography has been popular among portrait photographers for years. In terms of design, a sepia tone is a classic/vintage photo effect and can give an older, aged or worn look to most portrait photographs. Sepia triggers a nostalgic feeling and makes a modern portrait look like an instant classic (especially in combination with a subtle, almost subliminal black retro vignette)...

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Matt Hahnewald Photography; Facing the World; photography; photo; image; Nikon D3100; Nikkor AF-S 50mm f/1.8G; prime lens; 50 mm; 4x3 aspect ratio; horizontal format; closeup; portrait; portraiture; street portrait; headshot; en face; front view; depth of field; bokeh; outdoor; sunshine; high noon sun; sunlight; harsh noon sun; sepia conversion; Rajasthani turban; Rajasthani pagari; shadows; world cultures; cultural; character; personality; real people; human; human head; human face; eyes; mouth; moustache; turban; traditional garment; facial expression; consent; empathy; rapport; encounter; ethnic portrait; travel; travel portrait; travel destination; Jodhpur; Rajasthan; India; Asia; city dweller; tradition; market; Indian man; one person; male; adult; lived-in face; wrinkles; eye contact; posing; incredible; exotic; handsome; powerful; determined; focused; attitude; leptosomic body build (Kretschmer)

"Each of us chooses the tone for telling his or her own story. I would like to choose the durable clarity of a platinum print, but nothing in my destiny possesses the luminosity. I live among diffuse shadings, veiled mysteries, uncertainties; the tone of telling my life is closer to that of a portrait in sepia..."
(Isabel Allende: Portrait in Sepia)

Matt Hahnewald Photography; Facing the World; photo; image; closeup; street portrait; headshot; outdoor; one person; character personality; people; male; adult; human; face; head; eyes; eye contact; facial expression; cap; photography; consent; empathy; rapport; relationship; emotion; portrait; portraiture; environmental portrait; 4x3 aspect ratio; horizontal format; posing; Asia; East Asia; Philippines; Siquijor Island; beach; fisherman; Nikon D3100; Nikkor AF-S 50mm f/1.8G; travel; en face; front view; villager; depth of field; bokeh; grinning; friendly; local man; right hand; gesture; body language; v shaped finger and thumb on chin pose; Mindanao Sea

Matt Hahnewald Photography; Facing the World; photo; image; closeup; street portrait; headshot; outdoor; one person; character personality; people; male; adult; human; face; head; eyes; eye contact; facial expression; cap; photography; consent; empathy; rapport; relationship; emotion; portrait; portraiture; environmental portrait; 4 : 3 aspect ratio; horizontal format; posing; Asia; East Asia; Philippines; Siquijor Island; beach; fisherman; Nikon D3100; Nikkor AF-S 50mm f/1.8G; travel; en face; front view; villager; depth of field; bokeh; grinning; friendly; local man; Mindanao Sea

"Choosing sepia is all to do with trying to make the image look romantic and idealistic.
It's sort of a soft version of propaganda."
(Acc. to Martin Parr)

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One last thing: genuine sepia photographs taken at the end of the 19th century and early into the 20th rarely show people smiling. Faces were held as still and straight as ramrods. Subjects had to keep their faces motionless for lengthy periods because the slightest movement would cause the image to blur. That's why it's not a good idea to convert contemporary portraits with smiling faces into sepia; it'll look somewhat incongruent and fake:

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More blog entries about editing street portraits: