I've never been very good at jet lag math, but looking back on October, I would say that leaving a five day window between arriving in London from Hawaii and flying to India was not the wisest move. Having said that however, I didn't have much choice. Hawaii was organised a year ago and this work trip came up last minute. And when was I ever going to turn down a trip to India anyway? Never.
But it's times like these when I wish I had a bit more energy, a bit more reserve petrol in the tank to just keep going. We arrived at our hotel in Delhi at 1am after being delayed at the airport for about two hours. I remember sitting there waiting for Tom to get his visa and thinking to myself, "that's another hour less to sleep... another hour less to sleep... and another". And then when I finally had the chance to sleep, I couldn't! Because: jet lag. So waking up at 4am wasn't such a problem because I was awake before my alarm.
It's usually at this point when I am reminded of a few conversations I have had with other humanitarian/international photographers. They always say that the drop-out rate in a career like this is usually pretty high because it is hard! It's exhausting, it's anti-social, it's heartbreaking, it's physically and mentally challenging. It's just hard.
So squeezing into a car that was way too small for three people and all their equipment to catch another flight from Delhi to Lucknow while feeling sick from lack of sleep, it did help to remember that. It's supposed to be hard. You do need to be physically and mentally fit - something I'm really working on these days.
And I rely a lot on the compulsion to keep going. I don't know what it is, maybe it's adrenaline or love for my job, or stubbornness? But whatever it is that kicks in when I begin to take photos, that's what gets me through. I don't feel tired anymore, I don't feel panicky that my body is going to pack it in. A little voice inside starts freaking out about the frames and the colours and that golden hour in India that is just... I don't even know how to describe it. And the stories of course, always the stories.
So after a lot of no sleep, whatever it is that gets me out of the car when we arrive at our first location and into the crowds and dust to start doing "photographer squats" every few minutes - I'm grateful to it.
I'm photographing the Dewa equine fair, just me and a videographer (Tom) and a storyteller (Jamie). This is where thousands of animals are bought and sold into work every year and it's a challenging work environment for many reasons. We come across so many heartbreaking stories in our time at the fair, but this first evening is golden and everyone is happy to finally be in the field.
I usually travel with Jamie for work these days unless I have to go by myself, he's the one up there with the goat. It's super helpful to have someone I can quietly complain to about being tired - and someone to take photos of me for the blog of course! And Tom up there with the drone is one of a few videographers I get to work with. When I first started this job I had to film, photograph, write, interview, plan - I was a one woman content collection show. These days I'm lucky enough to get to put together my own team of talented people to take into the field, it's so much fun getting to work with them all! And I learn so much each time.
Part two coming later this week...