Idling in India
Miranda Innes responds to a new book of photographs
photographs taken by Annie Owen
Annie Owen has a hunter’s vision and skill, tracking and capturing singular, extraordinary moments. She doesn’t hide behind her lens – this isn’t photographic voyeurism. These pictures are about connection, people telling their stories, solemn, smiling, stoned.
Holi procession, Jaipur
Fearless heart and eye contact is her trademark, accompanied by magnetic warmth. Her work goes way beyond the purely visual. The images burrow into your imagination, you respond to these people, you feel the heat, smell the dust, hear the traffic swirling round the family on their motorbike, await the splash from the smiling man caught unforgettably in the instant before he hits the water.
There is page after page of haunting beauty, encompassing the tiny detail of a bell, a floating candle, a mahout’s toe guiding an elephant in contrast with vast landscapes of rice fields, bleached sand, clay bricks.
The images reverberate, settling in a corner of your cerebral cortex as a resource of visual wealth, a personal spell of calm and joy to raise you above the daily hurly-burly: flying monks, a girl dancing on an empty beach, the silhouette of a man standing in a canoe haloed with sunset water. Beautifully composed in tranquil monotones or the brilliant kaleidoscope colours that spell India. Her gift is to make you see afresh, to have beginners’ eyes.
The seductive and diverse reality of India in Annie Owen’s photography electrifies the picture-weary, transporting the viewer to a new world, light-years away from the familiar daily blizzard of manufactured pictures, faked, photoshopped, perfected, that clamour for our attention from every newsstand.
Heaven would be to have these pictures wall-sized, to paper entire rooms with them, to live in them. Maybe not the head-hunters.
• Annie Owen began her career working as picture editor of the British Journal of Photography, where her lifelong love of photography was nurtured. Whilst raising her children, Annie wrote and illustrated several children’s books, many of which were translated into various foreign languages. For the last two decades, her real passion has been the Indian subcontinent where she has travelled regularly and extensively, accumulating a large body of photographic work and detailed journals. For more information see annieowen.com.
• St Leonards based Miranda Innes raised eyebrows in the late 1990s when she left London life as editor of Country Living to become a writer in Andalucía, and whose subsequent published work includes Getting to Manana and Cinnamon City.
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