Photographer Marc Llewellyn recently quit his day job to pursue travel and creativity. On one of his recent journeys, he ventured to India to document his interactions with the people and cultures of Rajasthan and Uttarakhand. His collection, the Magic of Rajasthan and Uttarakhand, was the result of his time spent between the two states.
Here, we asked Marc a few questions about his passion for photography and his trip through the vast South Asian country of India.
How did you first get into photography?
I started taking photos during my second stint of traveling after high school — I would’ve been about 19 years old. I was surfing quite a lot at the time and would go looking for waves with various photographers around the West of England. Seeing them hone their craft inspired me to take an interest in the process and start my own journey with a very basic Canon Powershot.
My interest in photography was further pricked by the birth of social media. Through such platforms, I was exposed to an avalanche of imagery generated by both friends and influential creatives. In my mind, I naively believed that I could take equal to, or better, shots — so I set out to photograph anything and everything. Though I quickly learned that I wasn’t very good, I was eager to work at it.
How has photography allowed you to travel?
I wouldn’t say photography has afforded me the opportunity to explore the world beyond my home country until this past year. Since I quit my job of 8 years back in 2017, I have traveled to the Mentawai Islands, Singapore, India, Sri Lanka and back to the Mentawai Islands. That said, I have always been an avid traveler and photography hobbyist, so the lure of particular destinations have definitely been driven by their photographic potential. However, this year, I will be taking a position as a photographer for a surfing resort in the remote Mentawai Islands, which should be absolutely incredible.
What brought you to Rajasthan and Rishikesh?
I had never been drawn to India previously. But after deciding to take a year off of work to challenge myself and grow as a person, many like-minded individuals encouraged me to visit India. So, I rented a Royal Enfield motorcycle and set-off on the 2,500-kilometer journey. My only aim was to explore and take documentary-style photos, which have no agenda other than depicting a point-of-view experience.
What was India like for you?
I found the parts of India I visited to be personally challenging in many ways. Although I witnessed magic every single day — whether through a parade, festival, wedding, fleeting interaction, or religious ceremony — I found myself weighted by overcrowdedness, pollution, and constant advances from street hustlers. I also became numb from seeing the volume of homeless people. It’s confronting, actually, just how dire their opportunities are. But it’s moving to see that they’re all entrepreneurs in some way — like this bloke I met who slept under a tree on a roundabout, selling tea he boiled off a small fire.
Overall, my interactions and experiences there were rich. And when things felt like too much in the cities, I was able to get the hell out and discover the natural beauty of the country — all thanks to my motorbike.
Do you have a favorite photo from your time there? If so, can you tell me the story behind it?
In a backstreet of Udaipur, a congregation of local women dressed in traditional sarees was marching toward the Ghats at Sunset Point. The bright colors of their clothing against the monotone stone wall behind made them stand out like Christmas lights. At the end of the pack was a mother carrying her child, and as they walked past me, the child caught a glimpse of me — a strange Western guy — and continued to stare me down until they’d rounded the bend out of sight. His face and the silhouette of the woman’s arm through the saree are what made this picture for me. It is one of those moments frozen in time that I come back to and discover new elements, time after time.
What do you hope your audience connects with most when they see your photographs?
I simply hope they evoke a feeling or emotion in my audience. Hopefully, they can see the story I’m trying to tell through my images — or, at least, be able to create their own. I often hear that people live vicariously through travel photos, so I always try to keep that in mind while shooting.