Nagaland Headhunters 1

Nagaland Headhunters

Nagaland was always on my bucket list as a place to visit of the beaten track so I finally decided to go and recce the place and try and make contact with the tribal people as they are amongst the lat headhunters in the world today ( they abandoned this parctice in the mid 1970's )

Nagaland is not the easist of places to get to with a limited road network and basic roads so I decided to firstly fly to Gurwhati airport in Assam and after spending a couple of days there photographing around the Kamakhya Temple which is very old Hindu temple where Godess Kamakhya is worshipped we started the journey through Kazingra park and into Nagaland with my guide and fixer.

As we travelled thru Assam we stopped of spending time with the Maya tribe photographing most of the village people on a tobacco lastolite background.

Once we entered Nagaland through an old checkpoint reminiscent of days gone by the roads were really quite bumpy and mainly without a tar surface . It took us two days to reach Mon where we spent the day with the Mon tribe both photographing them and just spending time in their huts with a large open fire drinking freashly brewed coffee.

The following day we started or asscent up into the Nagahills to Longwa to spend time with the Longhwa tribal people staying overnight in the only hotel in the vicinity which I can safely say was the most basic accomodation I have ever enjoyed with no running water and no heating !

In the morning we made our way to visit the tribesman wher we spent a long day with them witnessing their opium ceremony , firing their muzzel loaded rifels and drinking home made coffee over an open firepit. It was just one of the best experiences that Ive so far had.

 

Click on the video to see

 

Lastolite

 

Nagaland  in the north-east of India It borders the state of Assam to the west and Myanmar to the east. Nagaland is mostly mountainous except those areas bordering Assam valley.

Nagaland is inhabited by 16 main tribes - Ao, Angami, Chang, Konyak, Lotha, Sumi, Chakhesang, Khiamniungan, Kachari, Phom, Rengma, Sangtam, Yimchungrü, Kuki, Zeliang and Pochury as well as a number of sub-tribes.Each tribe is unique in character with its own distinct customs, language and dress. Two threads common to all, is language and religion - English is in predominant use and Nagaland is one of three states in India where the population is mainly christian, with conversions starting in the British Raj era.

The Konyak tribe is one of the many Naga tribes. But what sets them apart from the rest of the tribes of this northeastern Indian state was their headhunting history, which was part of their strong warrior tradition. Territorial conflicts between rival tribes and villages were resolved through warfare and Konyaks were feared for their headhunting skills. This stopped in the late sixties

 

The Kamakhya temple

Guwahati and the famous Kamakhya temple. A very popular pilgrimage site for Hindu's The templeit was built to symbolise and honour the deity Kamakhya and represents the female power of Shakti and celebrates a woman’s ability to conceive. The temple doesn’t have an idol of Kamakhya to worship but a yoni (vagina). According to legend it marks the site where Sati’s womb fell.

To see more from my trip https://www.shootthestreet.co.uk/documentary-photography/an-indian-adventure/

Background vintage collapsible background tobacco-olive

Nikon D850

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An Indian Adventure 2

An Indian Adventure

Street and Travel photography from Nagaland, Varanasi and Kolkata

Top tips for street and travel photography

1 Thorough preparation do your homework and lots of detailed research is the first step and vitally important to ensure you get the most from your planned trip

2 Speak to locals, it gets you in places you wouldn’t have dreamt of and opens up many doors

3 Travel light, all my images were taken on a single camera with just a 35mm lens. Probably the greatest lens for the street and with a prime you just get to know the lens and its capabilities inside out. The only other stuff I take out is a small bottle of water and a spare battery, load up the camera with 128g cards and you’ll be great for the day, oh and get yourself a comfy pair of shoes or sandals if your visiting lots of temples. My fav trainers are made by Merrill and probably the comfiest sandals are a pair of Birkenstock Arizona’s

4 Stay with the moment and shoot through capturing the reactions, not just the action. My biggest lesson came a few years ago when travelling with a guy that could barely walk. He stayed in one chosen location for several hours at a time but boy at the end of the day did he have some cracking images.

5 Learn to use Google maps and build up a history of where you’ve been, what look like great places when you're engaging with others and from your research

6 Learn a few basic words in the native language. A simple Hello or thank you with a smile both buys you many brownie points and opens up new doors with locals.

7 Shoot har and Edit hard and then just show your best

8 Vary your shots. Everything gets boring if all your images are taken from the same viewpoint, take your safety shot then ask yourself how I can take this better

9 Get up early, the light is beautiful, rest in the middle of the day if you need and then shoot thru sunset and the golden hour for the best pictures

10 Go with a group and critique each other’s work daily we all love a pat on the back and lots of likes but the best way to improve is constructive feedback amongst each other.

An Indian Adventure

Started at the beginning of November flying into Guwahati airport we spent a couple of days at the world-renowned Kamakhya temple where thousands of people queued each day to pay their respects to the mother goddess Kamakhya.

Early afternoon we started the long drive towards Nagaland stopping off for a night in the Kaziranga national park for a mini safari on elephant back before going on to Sivisgar where we photographed the Mayamara people in their small remote village.

Next day we continued on our adventure to Nagaland, you definitely needed a fixer here as even getting across the border was problematic, but once thru we took the extremely bumpy roads towards Mon to visit the Konyak tribesmen. WOW . is all I can say, just to sit with these guys was incredible and then to spend most of the day in their remote village was a true experience.

The following day we travelled further up the mountain to Longhwra reaching a height of nearly 2000m above sea level this was truly remote. We were greeted by the locals and stayed over in the only guest house there. To call it a hotel would be pushing it with no heating and no running water and being so high the temperature was extremely cold. One of the few nights I struggled sleeping with two thick blankets and all my clothes on I still shivered thru the night.

The next morning as the sun rose we were taken to the Longwa tribe and the chief’s house. Well, I thought yesterday was amazing, but this was a new level …. Incredible! The Longwa tribe invited us into the chief’s house where we drank incredibly strong coffee and took photos whilst they smoked and chanted. The rest of the day was spent photographing them individually in their environment and the other local people.

We finally returned to the temple at Kamakhya before flying into a very different world of the religious, busy and extremely vibrant Varanasi spending much time down at the Ghats and walking the narrow lanes of the old town.

After a week in Varanasi I headed to Kolkata for two weeks , the first week being a training course where I was met by five fellow photographers all waiting to explore the city and photograph its people as they went about their daily life whilst the second week was devoted to my contract with National Geographic Traveller to produce a four-page spread about the city for publication later this year.

 

Why not join us later this year when we plan to visit Istanbul, Vietnam, Kolkata, Cuba and Nagaland, Sign up here to find out first or just give me a call on 07786 377197

Images were taken by attendees

A short slideshow of some of my favourite images from the trip

Please leave a a comment below.. Thankyou

An Indian Adventure 2018 from Mark Seymour on Vimeo.