*Rewind* *Cue background music and flashes of memory*I’m headed to Kodencherry (nowhere near Pondicherry and somewhere in Kerala) last July to the Malabar river festival, as a friend of mine informed the organisers he knew a wedding photographer who might be able to shoot a Kayaking competition. Strange connection, but I’ve seen stranger.
But being someone who likes to try out new things, I hopped on a bus at 3am and headed off to one of the events that changed the way I looked at Kerala. The festival’s an international event held annually to promote whitewater kayaking in India. People from different parts of the world come down to this little village and celebrate. I say celebrate, because that’s what they do over three days.
Although this event is for kayakers, the festival has locals and tourists lungi dancing, trekking river beds, climbing rocks, fighting bugs, eating spicy food and generally having a good time in the rain. You will also hear complaints of the Kerala Govt’s ban on alcohol, and the long queues to wait for them at 6 in the morning.
The competitors are a group of dedicated, fun-loving people who somehow manage to make sibling rivalries look fierce. These guys compete ferociously while in the water and hang out after like best friends on land. They’ll even put some of the best Malyali drunkards to shame. Actually no, 1 bottle of beer is enough for most.
This year, the festival is back with a bang in July between the 24th and 26th. Lots of prize money and sponsors. Come, if you feel that it looks like fun, and don’t mind getting a little wet.
On a side note, I met and made a lot of new friends, all from different walks of adventure sports. There were all sorts of people with fancy camera’s capturing the event. So, to me, a small time wedding photographer, it didn’t make sense why I was also chosen to shoot the event. But what the organiser, Manik Taneja said made sense.“Everyone shooting the festival, only takes pictures of people in the water. We want someone to capture to the festival.”
And I feel I did sufficient justice to that requirement. So much so, that when Red Bull featured the festival, all the pictures used were mine (minus 1)
I’m new to adventure sports photography, so can’t really give tips on the subject. But one thing I did learn is unlike the safety of cities, the camera is exposed to a lot of elements in nature. Rain, dust, fog, cold, accidental collisions and photographers falling down on occasions. Make sure your equipment is sufficiently protected.