Many years ago, whilst working as an “apprentice” at the newly formed National Institute of Design in Ahmedabad, Ishu Patel was given the opportunity of a lifetime: to assist the noted French humanist photographer Henri Cartier-Bresson on a photographic journey through the states of Gujarat and Rajasthan. During that time he built an enduring friendship with the master, and absorbed many of his philosophies about capturing the elusive single image that Cartier-Bresson was so famed for.
Now, decades later, Patel is a world-renowned animation filmmaker, albeit one who has never lost his connection with still photography. During a five-year sojourn based in Singapore, he takes the opportunity to follow in his mentor’s footsteps. Adhering to Cartier-Bresson’s mantra to “photograph the truth”, Patel embarks on a photographic journey in Asia. Abandoning moving images to secure a series of still images that capture a uniquely human gesture or powerful thought-provoking story, he prowls both urban and rural areas armed only with a Leica M9 with 35 and 50mm fast lenses.
The result is a collection of elusive still images — photographs, mainly in black and white, that tell a story, seize a moment in life or are a witness to joy, struggle or human dignity. Never political or judgmental, the collection comprises Patel’s homage to the enduring lives of ordinary Asians, many of whom are increasingly overlooked in today’s fast-changing world. Insightful and personal texts on the various countries and peoples covered accompany the powerful, thought-provoking images.
About the author: ISHU PATEL is an acclaimed animation ﬁlm director / producer and educator whose ﬁlms have received theatrical and television distribution worldwide. His many international awards include two Oscar nominations, the Silver Bear at the Berlin Film Festival, the BAFTA award, and the Grand Prix at both Annecy and the Montreal World Film Festival. A Rockefeller Foundation Scholarship brought Indian-born Patel to the National Film Board of Canada where he developed innovative animation techniques to enhance his stories and visuals, producing and directing many award-winning ﬁlms. Years ago, while as a student at the newly formed National Institute of Design in Ahmedabad, India, Patel was given the opportunity of a lifetime: to assist Henri Cartier-Bresson on a photographic journey through the states of Gujarat and Rajasthan. During that time he built an enduring friendship with the master, and absorbed many of the techniques and philosophies about capturing the elusive ‘decisive moment’ for which Cartier-Bresson was so famous. Decades later, his passion for photography remains.