Documentary portraiture remains one of the branches or applications of portrait photography that bring out the strongest visual narratives. Those that reflect the daily life, culture, and traditions are especially interesting, and not only because they give us a slice of life in places we haven’t been. Most of them are also telling of the unique experiences and opportunities that photographers immerse themselves into to capture a compelling visual story. Case in point and today’s inspiring series of portraits taken by Manish Lakhani in the Indian Himalayas.
Manish was born with a love for the mountains, and this ardor has shaped his life and sense of adventure as an explorer and a documentary and travel photographer. The Indian Himalayas, he says, is both his backyard and favorite setting for documenting life, culture, and the beauty of landscapes. All of this shows in his rich collection of photographs, comprised of sweeping panoramas, slice of life, and intimate portraits. Among the most fascinating are his portraits of Ladakh locals, whose way of life is similar to the Tibetan culture.
For this set, Manish photographed a Ladakhi man and woman in their traditional garb in the comfort of their home. It’s interesting to see the complexity of their clothes set against the simplicity of their home. The resulting portraits don’t just give a beautiful glimpse into the Ladakhi way of life, but also provides a great example of the intimate mood portrait photographers aspire to have in their work. His subjects appear so calm and at ease, a testament to the trust Manish has earned most likely by getting to know the household for a significant period of time. And that is an adventure and opportunity many of us can only dream of.
If this documentary style caught your interest, you might also want to check out some of the exceptional documentary portrait works we’ve featured in the past: Ken Hermann’s Shaman, and Trupal Pandya’s Brokpas and Head Hunters, to start with.