Drive down the highway in the United States, and you’ll find mostly passenger cars with a few freight trucks. In India, it’s the opposite: Highways are filled with freight trucks, and only the occasional passenger car. Trucks even jam the new, wider highways that are gradually coming into service, and you often find long lines of idle trucks by the side of the road. It’s a vivid illustration of how a new, booming economy moves goods among the over one billion citizens of India and beyond. The sheer number of new cars and trucks hitting the road every day in the developing world also provides a sobering perspective on the challenge of lowering carbon emissions worldwide.
Streets in the cities are also teeming with traffic, with bicycles, rickshaws, and more cars thrown into the mix. In contrast, camel-drawn carts are still a fundamental form of transportation in the countryside. At every level, India is in motion.
Unlike the grey, corporate shipping trucks in the West, Indian freighters are often brightly painted with highly personalized artwork. Shiny tassels are often tied to rear view windows and bumpers, and painted hubcaps may hang from a bumper. It all goes back to how cargo-carrying elephants were traditionally decorated. Because the truck is the modern elephant, Indians have simply transferred their colorful decorations from their elephants to their trucks.
I shot these images using a digital SLR camera set for raw format, and then I processed them for optimal printing using Adobe Lightroom and Adobe Photoshop. For more details about the production of the exhibition prints, click Production Notes: Color Prints. The last four items are video clips taken using the video mode of a Canon PowerShot S60 and edited in Apple Final Cut Pro; these video clips run in a silent loop during the receptions for this exhibition.
Thanks to A Caprice Kitchen for hosting the first exhibit of eight of these images in February and March 2009, and to Salaam Garage for leading the India trip.