Street photography in India with the Leica M (Typ 240) & 50mm Summilux

Benjamin Gordon is an independent music producer and street photographer from Brighton. We caught up with him to hear about his latest travels to India, using the Leica M (Typ 240) and his 50mm Summilux

As I flew into Delhi in the middle of the night and looked at the orange and green lights, in patterns forming the city shapes, I fell in love. I knew this would happen before I went and it was confirmed before my feet even touched the ground.

I woke up in the morning and set out straight away. I had no idea what to expect.

At first, I felt nervous, walking through the historic streets of Delhi, armed with my camera and the local currency given to me by a friend.

I began taking pictures as if it was home or somewhere I felt comfortable. The camera helped me to adjust. Suddenly a young boy from the balconies above threw a water bomb at a local shopkeeper. I laughed as instantly the childish, mischievous instinct in me came alive. I realised the best way to approach this was to play, to be curious and get involved.

The colours were bright, the streets were dirty, and the people were honest. All of this was obvious from the start.

After walking around the streets looking for compositions I was tailed by a young man asking if he could spend some time with me. I accepted reluctantly but spent the rest of the day and evening with him. He showed me all the interesting places to go and we spoke about life and death long into the evening. India had already wrapped me up and taken me on a ride and the first day wasn’t over yet.

The next day I travelled to Mathura to document the famous festival of colour, ‘Holi’. The colours, the sounds, the lack of physical space was an assault against all of my comforts and familiarities. I had my Leica M240 wrapped up in an underwater housing, which made it ridiculously difficult to focus and see what I was doing but I persevered anyway using my instinct and practice for distance and exposure. 

Each time I boarded a train I was surrounded by locals staring at me with curious, hardened faces. At first I was uneasy but I soon learned that a simple smile would be reciprocated with one a thousand times more beautiful. Their eyes would fill with love and their words full of inquisitiveness. 

I travelled on to Agra and met women who had survived acid attacks. On to Rishikesh and saw Baba men bathing in the Ganges. The ceremonial aspect of Hinduism was prevalent throughout my trip. It was devotion and love that seemed to bring everyone together.

I met people who became my close friends, I had conversations which changed the way I think. I explored composition and colour. I left India full of love and new ideas, all of which will be with me forever.

Follow Benjamin Gordon on Instagram: @benjamingordon__