How to photograph religious festivals
I GRADUATED WITH A DEGREE in Medieval and Renaissance Studies from Vassar College, and also spent three years studying graduate-level comparative religion and anthropology at Columbia University, and photography at the International Center of Photography. I was fascinated by Africa, Southeast Asia, and the Far East, and my gut instinct told me that if I wanted to understand the cultures there, I should learn about the religions first.
I studied the Abrahamic religions, Buddhism, and Hinduism. In my anthropology classes I learned about the esoteric branches of these religions, and then was exposed to religions of the African diaspora, such as Santaria, Candomblé, and Vodun. I was fascinated by the vintage footage of masquerade dances, and by the old black and white photographs from photographers like Pierre Verger, and contemporary photographers like Phyllis Galembo. I was curious about these “embodied” experiences of the divine.
I began a photographic journey to document such experiences, where I’ve shot festivals and ceremonies as far afield as Brazil, India, and Papua New Guinea, as well as in the US.