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Exhibition showcases Rajasthan

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081126_18.jpg

First solo exhibition of Siem Reap's Angkor Photography Festival treats viewers to former festival student Siddharth Jain's colourful and intimate vision of India's largest state, Rajasthan

SIEM REAP

© SIDDARTH JAIN

Rajasthan by Siddarth Jain.

The first solo exhibit of the Fourth Angkor Photography Festival was presented last night at the French Cultural Centre, and viewers were treated to a colourful and intimate look at India's largest state in "Rajasthan: Current Lives", by photographer Siddharth Jain.

Jain, 28, first began taking photographs in college as an engineering student in Bangalore. Originally from Delhi, Jain had his first opportunity to travel with friends during college.

"We had a normal consumer camera, one of those really cheap ones. I made sure that whenever we were travelling, I carried the camera with me. I wanted to take the photographs," he said.

Jain then put aside photography and earned his master's degree in business administration at the Indian Institute of Foreign Trade.

He began working as a sales manager for Suzuki in Rajasthan, and after a few months had saved up enough money to buy a camera and started photographing the surrounding locale.

"I do not know what came first, whether photography discovered me or I discovered it," he said.

"A lot of things have changed for me after picking up the camera - the way I see every day is different and more meaningful."
Past student at the festival

In 2006, Jain participated in the Angkor Photography Festival as a student and learned "everything" there.

"Before that, I was just a kid taking photographs," he said. "It was the first time I had a confrontation with photojournalism. I got knowledge in terms of how to shoot better, and learned ways of improving my technique in the field, which is where everything happens."

Last night's exhibit explored Jain's love affair with Rajasthan, a state to which he feels truly connected.

"Rajasthan is a consistent place for me, and during the years I lived there I kept growing as a photographer," he said.

Jain's photographs are precisely composed and beautifully executed, and his photojournalistic take on Rajasthan highlights festivals and fairs in the villages, where he found the people to be exceptionally positive and strong.

Jain recently quit his business job and is looking forward to pursuing photography full time to explore new aspects of Rajasthan.

"This is a long project for me," he said.  

Jain, who has exhibited both in Spain and Australia, and is represented by Zuma Press and OnAsia Images, likes to work in colour and to observe the interplay of shadows and light. He believes that photography is about documenting experience.

"I would be somewhere, perhaps having dinner with friends, and all of a sudden there is a moment that happens. And I try to capture that experience while still thinking about the colour and shadow, and see how much, or how little, I can get in the frame," he said.

Jain's exhibit at the French Cultural Centre was followed by a slide presentation at the FCC.

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