My dual passion for photography and writing enables me to take notes in different ways. If I am on the go in a city with so many details and there is so little time to capture in all in my journal, then I take the camera shortcut. Certain photographs become the springboards for chapters in the book, or scenes where a character will hold an internal monologue.
These flower vendors in Old Delhi, for example, became part of the opening chapter of Wings at Dawn. I was fascinated by the fact that there is one particular street in the Chandni Chowk area of Delhi where the street is blocked with flower vendors shortly before sunrise. You can buy cut flowers to your hearts content or floral garlands to offer at the temple or for the wedding. Either way, there is no way of leaving empty-handed. The vibrant colours of the roses and marigolds would not have been done justice in the written form two years later if not for this photograph. Timing was the key to this, because all these vendors are gone by 8:00am and then the fruit vendors take over and the spice market opens.
When I shot this in Jodhpur, I had no idea at the time that a. I would write a book and b. that this grumpy onion seller would feature in two chapters of it! It was an encounter of no more than two minutes, as I wove my way through the Clock Tower market. Had I not taken all the photographs that I did that day, the character of little Hakim would never have come to life.
Taking notes, paying attention to detail is essential to any story. It adds to the authenticity, and gives your scene and characters a more solid credibility.