Sunset, Pushkar, India. Nikon D70, 18-70mm DX Nikkor.

The Pushkar Fair

It is said that "Rajasthanis can celebrate nine festivals in a week," a tribute to the fervor and passion that local people allocate to festive occasions.

In Rajasthan, no festival is more colorful than the Pushkar Fair, a huge camel trading bazaar held in the desert each fall. During the weeks of the fair, camels, horses and bullocks are bought and sold in the hundreds, and dozens of merchants are on hand to sell camel decorations, saddlery, leather goods and handicrafts. There is a carnival for the kids, and street performers add to the festive air. The camels are even shaved and decorated with colorful designs, to heighten their appeal to the prospective buyer.

But as a photographer, the thing that attracted me most while in Pushkar was the people. These men and women of central Asia have been raising camels and trading them here for hundreds of years, and this history seems to be written into the lines on their faces and in the simple clothing they wear. There is a quiet dignity in many of the older men, who show only a mild interest in a passing photojournalist from the West.

One charming aspect of our visit to Pushkar was the crowd of small boys who inevitably seemed to gather around my son Sterling to have their photo taken--though not by me! Sterling was carrying his own small digital camera, and this was a source of great fascination to the other children his age.

Serendipitously, while photographing the camel fair I encountered Art Wolfe, fellow Seattle resident and noted outdoor photographer with whom I traveled to Africa in 2003. This time, it turns out we were shooting in India completely independently, but ended up in Pushkar on the very same day. Karma!

Making Chai, Pushkar, India. Nikon D70, 18-70mm DX Nikkor.

Young camel traders, Pushkar, India. Nikon D70, 18-70mm DX Nikkor.

Camel, Pushkar, India. Nikon D70, 18-70mm DX Nikkor.

Cart driver with cigarette, Pushkar, India. Nikon D70, 18-70mm DX Nikkor.

Pushkar, India. Nikon D70, 18-70mm DX Nikkor.

Shaved camel, Pushkar, India. Nikon D70, 18-70mm DX Nikkor.

Young camel trader, Pushkar, India. Nikon D70, 18-70mm DX Nikkor.

Tourist and camels, Pushkar, India. Nikon D70, 18-70mm DX Nikkor.

Photographer Art Wolfe, Pushkar, India. Nikon D70, 18-70mm DX Nikkor