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Dieser Artikel ist leider nicht verfügbar auf Deutsch
October 2009

For 35 years Clive Limpkin worked as a photographer for British national newspapers in London, commonly known as Fleet Street, named after the road where many of the papers were based. Now a travel photographer and writer, he explains how he, with the help of his wife and some expert drivers, shot India in quick time for a new book called, ‘India Exposed’...

When invited to a friend’s birthday part in Mumbai, my wife Alex and I decided to combine it with a month-long photo shoot in India, knowing from my Fleet Street experience it being the most photogenic country on Earth.

On our return we recognised the book potential but it wasn’t realised until a friend recalled a neighbour in New York who, 'might be in publishing'. He turned out to be president of Abbeville Press, who looked at 30 of the images on a DVD and then said, 'yes'. It’s not always that easy, of course.

© Clive Limpkin

Each evening this sacred cow wanders into a tailor’s shop to spend the night, leaving each morning to pick over city garbage. Varanasi, Uttar Pradesh.

Faced with the publisher’s commission to comprehensively photograph India within a six-month window in the format of over 100 subjects in alphabetical order, with mini-essays for each, our planning had to be detailed. Enter Alex, my wife, whose ability as logistics officer left me to concentrate on the photography.

Working with a UK-based specialist in Indian travel and a Delhi company supplying a relay of driver/guides, we worked out a route that criss-crossed the sub-continent and covered virtually all regions. Because they had been done to death, tourist spots had to be presented with a fresh eye; in the event, the best images were taken elsewhere, and with 90% of the country being rural, the possibilities were endless.

By choosing to cover as much as possible by road – this being a country with more photo opportunities per mile than any I’d come across, I shot at speed from the open car window between planned stops. This might not please the purists but it reduced the percentage of missed pictures (which still keep me awake at night) and resulted in more than 50 of the 200 images in ‘India Exposed’ being shot this way.

The downside was in aggravating neck and shoulder strain that had developed from my Fleet Street days when my doctor refused further treatment unless I carried gear in two shoulder bags of matching weight. This time, my physio went a stage further and demanded my backpack must have a waist belt to take the weight to the hips and not the shoulders.

© Clive Limpkin

Such is the finesse of this young barber, he has rendered his business partner redundant. The Tonk/Japir road, Rajasthan.

Shooting from the car technique, if I dare use the term, could not have happened a generation ago, but advances in image stabilization, speed of autofocus and the low-noise capabilities of my EOS-1Ds Mark II cameras and Canon lenses made it possible. Take the shot of the village barber whose finesse has rendered his colleague redundant. File Info shows 1/200sec at f/8 with the zoom at 330mm at 800 ISO (my default rating). What it doesn’t say is that we were travelling at 35–40mph, having asked our driver to ease up as we went through villages from his 60mph average, nor that one quarter of the un-cropped frame shows a sunlit white wall to the left, thus underexposing by two to three stops. Quite simply, that shot would not have been possible 10 years ago.

Neurotic about backing up, we were copying into the night onto three DVDs, with one for my luggage, one for my wife’s, and a third set posted regularly to the UK and then downloaded to a Jobo hard drive which was never out of my sight. RAW images finally totalled 80,000. One tip here, for accurate captioning, a GPS record for each shot is a must.

The procession of photos, words, layout and reproduction into a finished polished product gives me a buzz like no other; maybe internet display is the future shop window for photographers, but give me a bound hardback, the smell of the ink and the tactility of the paper every time.

Then came the promotional push. Working with the publishers, PDFs of the book were sent early to major papers, magazines, TV and radio stations in the US and UK, followed up by a 16-page glossy taster and a set of high-res prints to a limited number of potential reviewers.

It also prompted the need for a slick website that would widen the market. It proved to be a lesson in the power of the internet with the photo gallery being picked up by other design and art sites till we were getting 4,000 hits a day within two weeks and feedback comments that were worthy of the book jacket.

© Clive Limpkin

For the poor, such as this pilgrim, India’s modernisation offers little. Trichy Temple Complex, Tamil Nadu.

I’m now well into the next book, this time shooting with EOS 5D Mark II cameras, but images will never come as easy as those six months in India.

  • ‘India Exposed’ was published in September 2009 by Abbeville Press of New York.

Clive Limpkin’s equipment:

EOS-1Ds Mark II (x2)

EF24-70mm f/2.8L USM
EF28-135mm f/3.5-5.6 IS USM
EF100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS USM
EF300mm f/4L IS USM
EF1.4x and EF2x extenders

Arctic Butterfly sensor brush
Upstart Kevlar shoulder straps

Biografie: Clive Limpkin

Clive Limpkin

For 35 years Clive Limpkin worked as a photographer for several of London’s Fleet Street newspapers including the Daily Express, The Sun and The Daily Mail, while feature writing for The Sunday Times and The Observer. In 1972 his book, ‘The Battle of Bogside’, covering three years of fighting in Northern Ireland, won the Robert Capa Gold Medal. After becoming travel editor of A La Carte magazine he left Fleet Street to concentrate on travel photography and writing.