Either from a artistic or a commercial point of view, sometimes you want to show people in the shot, sometimes you don’t. Photo editors can be very specific with their requests “I’d like an image of x at dawn with no people” or “I need a landscape shot of z during the day showing tourists visiting but no identifiable faces”.
I didn’t see much graffiti in India, but there were some great murals on the streets. Many were colorful illustrations of Hindu gods, and a few, such as the one above, were political statements.
Having got some great shots at dusk the night before, I still wanted to take the boat with Baba Jee the following morning. The light at dawn is both a different color and from a different direction to the warm evening rays. You’d miss many great opportunities if you only shot at one time of day. The rowing boat allowed me to get the photos of pilgrims bathing in the river, and another nice portrait of Baba Jee the boatman.
As the sun rises over the Ganges, a sadhu in his loincloth bathes in the river. Once clean, he removes his loincloth, and applies vibhuti, sacred ash, to his entire body. The ash dries to a grey white powder. For the rest of the day, he wears nothing but a few rings and the simple bracelets on his wrists.
There are many sadhus or holy men in Varanasi. Some are there for spiritual reasons, leading an ascetic life, free from worldly possessions. Others are, to put it politely, a little more commercially minded. It can be hard to tell which is which, both can be friendly, they’ll chat to you and let you take their photograph. Some will then shake your hand, and nod or give a blessing, if you leave a little money in a collection bowl. A few, however, will suddenly demand hundreds or thousands of rupees, the amount seemingly based on how rich or vulnerable you look. Of course the majority of these sadhus are simply trying to find the divine in a world that seems obsessed by material goods.