Alan Shortall: Travels in India

The Essence of Kerala

Storyteller: Alan Shortall, USA

Man making street food in India.

What were the reasons for your travel?

I'm a commercial photographer in Chicago and went to India to photograph the pepper harvest in the mountains of Kerala in southern India for The Reluctant Trading Experiment, a Chicago based spice company. The images of the pepper harvest were for the spice companies website and promotional use. We also travelled through Mumbai, and visited Rajasthan which I also photographed.

Driver and young kids smiling in transport in India.

What compelled you to make this photo book?

It's always really enjoyable to take the best photographs from any project or trip and put them together in a book. The way you can arrange the order and size of photographs to tell the story, the feel of the paper in your hands, is all really special. A book is the perfect way to record an event, editing down all the photographs to the most memorable ones capturing the essence of the trip.

Family at the beach in India.

What is your favorite image and why?

My favorite photo is the scene in Muzhappilangad Beach in Kerala (above). I love the arrangement of the two families and their small children, and the red and pink colors of their clothes blowing in the breeze against the blue sky.

Two men sitting on the grass.

What is your favorite story behind a single shot in the book?

The photograph of the two pepper pickers on their break, drinking chai (above) was taken in the mountains in Kerala. Workers climb up to 20 feet on ladders made from bamboo to pick the peppercorns, placing them in a large sack (like a cape) draped over their shoulders in a process that's probably unchanged for hundreds of years.


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