Changing Planet

Celebrating India in Word and Image


All photographs © 2008 Eric Meola.

“What I see more than anything else is an entire nation embracing life,” writes photographer Eric Meola in his book “India in Word & Image.”

“Every day there is a celebration, if not dozens, throughout the country, for that is what India is about — a continuous celebration of life and its mysteries.”

With that as introduction, I set about exploring Meola’s India. I wondered if he managed to portray something different to what I’ve seen in perhaps a dozen photo books about this extraordinary nation.

India-Cover.jpgWithin pages I was mesmerized by the changing contrasts in hues, textures, and compositions of this visual odyssey. This is not merely another rendering of the many splendors of India’s multiple cultures and landscapes. This work, some 200 photographs edited from 25,000, is mostly about India’s onslaught on the senses.

India: In Word & Image” (Welcome Books; November 2008; $60) was photographed by Meola during many trips to the country over a decade. He focused his cameras on people, landscapes, architecture, celebrations, and art.

“As a photographer, I am drawn to India because of the psychedelic colors that seem to permeate every facet of life,” Meola writes.

“I go there for all the contradictions of a place that is like no other I have ever been to; but I am drawn to India because the people are blessed with childhood’s sense of wonder, which they have never lost.”

India-6.jpgMeola’s images are accompanied by words from major writers whose works derive inspiration from Indian themes. Some 30 passages by wordsmiths like Salman Rushdie,  Anita Desai, R.K. Narayan, and Jhumpa Lahiri are showcased. There is no theme to any of this other than the experience of countless facets of India’s life.

 India-5.jpg“I was startled one day to realize that what I had seen as infinite chaos was, in fact, infinitely ordered, and in that simple truth I found the soul of India,” Meola says.

This is a true coffee table book. It can be picked up and opened randomly to find a gem of wisdom or a vision of a unique and glorious country that is home to one sixth of all humanity.


All photographs © 2008 Eric Meola.

Forty years in U.S., UK, and South African media gives David Braun global perspective and experience across multiple storytelling platforms. His coverage of science, nature, politics, and technology has been published/broadcast by the BBC, CNN, NPR, AP, UPI, National Geographic, TechWeb, De Telegraaf, Travel World, and Argus South African Newspapers. He has published two books and won several journalism awards. He has 120,000 followers on social media. David Braun edits the National Geographic Society blog, hosting a global discussion on issues resonating with the Society's mission and initiatives. He also directs the Society side of the Fulbright-National Geographic Digital Storytelling Fellowship, awarded to Americans seeking the opportunity to spend nine months abroad, engaging local communities and sharing stories from the field with a global audience. Follow David on Facebook  Twitter  LinkedIn

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