PHOTOS: Pro Photo Faculty Paul Meyer Captures the Beauty of India

December 21, 2012

Paul Meyer, M.S., Pro Photo faculty at Brooks Institute, is in the midst of a sabbatical that included an amazing trip to India, highlighted by visits with several Brooks alumni. He shares his impressions, experiences and images here on our blog.

Namaste! I just returned from an amazing month-long trip to India, my favorite travel destination. This was my fifth, my longest, and definitely my best trip there.

I flew into Chennai on the southeast coast and was met by recent graduate Narayanan (Hari) Narayanan. We traveled by bus to Mysore to witness the Dasara festival, and this is where our adventure truly began. Hari and I became separated in the massive crowd at one of the evening events. In the crush of humanity and unbeknownst to me, my front pocket was slit. My license, credit card and a little cash were taken, but it was a small price to pay for the tale I now get to tell.

From Mysore we traveled by bus – an adventure in itself – to Ooty, a town set high in the mountains, amidst tea plantations. We visited alumnus Iqbal Mohamed at the Light and Life Academy, the photo school he started in 2000. (I taught a workshop there when it first opened.)

A produce stand in the market in Ooty

From Ooty we went by bus to Coimbatore where I got to ride on the back of a scooter, in the crazy Indian traffic, at night!

Motorcycles and scooters parked in Coimbatore at night.

From Coimbatore we went to Hari’s hometown of Karaikudi, which we used as a base for the next two weeks of travel and adventure. Besides seeing the beautiful temples and unbelievable architecture unique to the area, I was taken to see behind-the-scenes things that most visitors never witness. We visited a place where beautiful, decorative tiles are made by hand. We saw cotton being hand-spun on a tiny spinning wheel in a scene straight out of the movie “Gandhi.” Incredible silk fabrics being woven with gold thread on simple hand looms. Baskets being woven by hand and gold bangles, encrusted with diamonds, being made in a room in a house in the middle of the suburbs in the middle of the night.

Spinning cotton by hand in Karaikudi.

Hari at the Brihadishwara Temple in Tanjore 

A police officer making an offering at the Sri Meenakshi Temple in Madurai.

Hari and I both photographing in the Athangudi Palace.

I ended my eastern stay with a trip to the southern most tip of India, where the Indian Ocean, Arabian Sea and the Bay of Bengal all meet.

Sunrise in Kanyakumari, the southern most tip of India.

The second leg of my trip began in Mumbai. I spent two days with Gauri Chopra, the Brooks Alumni Association President, and her family. Gauri took me on a client meeting where she was selecting 14 outfits for an upcoming fashion shoot in the Andaman Islands. Several of the dresses were going to be shot underwater and the rest on the beach. The average price of the dresses was over $800! Whew! It was such fun watching her make her selections.

The Bandra-Worli Sea Link in Mumbai shot through the sunroof of a moving car.

Gauri passed me off to my great friend and ’92 graduate, Dilip Bhatia. Dilip is an award-winning, internationally acclaimed commercial photographer with a beautiful studio in Mumbai. I was also fortunate enough to see Rid Burman at his studio. He is enjoying incredible success in the fashion world. His photos graced the cover and feature story of the November issue of Vogue India!

I spent Diwali (Festival of Lights) with Dilip’s family in Alibaug, then Dilip and I flew to Varanasi for an unforgettable four days. Sunrise and sunset on the Ganges are truly memorable experiences.

A boat ride on the Ganges at night.

Laundry and the Ganges, Varanasi.

I was a little surprised by the number of foreign tourists in Varanasi, both Asian and Western.  (Poor Dilip was actually a minority at our hotel.) One of the high points of the whole trip was coming back to our hotel exhausted each night and sharing a beer (or three) on the rooftop restaurant overlooking the river and talking about photography, family, and life. It is a memory I will cherish for the rest of my life.
(If any of my sweet friends from India are reading this blog post, my first ever, let me thank you from the bottom of my heart for the trip of a lifetime!)

Dilip Bhatia photographing his favorite shrine right outside our hotel.

I’m hoping to have a slide show at school in the near future and watch my personal website ( for a new gallery dedicated to this fantastic trip!

-Paul Meyer, M.S., Pro Photo Faculty

All photos © Paul Meyer