Sadhu of India – Travel Portraits Using 1 Light

Sadhu is an on-going personal photography project that I started in 2015. All of these portraits were taken in Varanasi and Nashik using just one light – a Profoto B1 with a Profoto 5ft Octa box that gives a big soft spread of even light.

From an early age, I watched Indian movies. I was visually drawn to the wonderful colours of the costumes and ornate designs of ancient palaces and temples. The energy and rhythms of big production dance scenes became infectious and made me feel happy inside. Later in adult life, when my personal journey of self discovery began, I started to explore yoga and meditation. As I delved deeper into my own spiritual being, I became curious about the spiritual being of others.

I walked for several miles each day in search of sadhu to photograph. Whilst I found many, I chose few….or should I say, we chose each other.

Baba Laxman Giri portrait, Ganges river, Varanasi.
Baba Laxman Giri portrait, Ganges river, Varanasi.

In Hinduism, a sadhu is a religious ascetic or holy person. The word refers to people who have renounced material attachment and left their homes to concentrate on physical and spiritual disciplines. The term sadhu comes from the Sanskrit for “accomplish”.

Jogi Balaknath Baba sits for a portrait in front of the cave he lives cut into the rock in Nashik, India.
Jogi Balaknath Baba sits for a portrait in front of the cave he lives cut into the rock in Nashik, India.

The lives of sadhus in India vary considerably. They live in ashrams or temples, on the streets in cities, in huts on the edges of villages or in caves in remote mountains ranges. A sadhu’s life is often a perpetual pilgrimage, moving constantly from one town or one holy place, to another.

Big Baba, river Ganges, Varanasi, India.
Big Baba, river Ganges, Varanasi, India.

Sadhu’s generally take vows of poverty and celibacy and depend on the charity of others for food. They usually have only the possessions they carry with them.

Portrait of Baba Dinesh Sunny, Varanasi, India.
Portrait of Baba Dinesh Sunny, Varanasi, India.
Sadhu-Varanasi-12
Portrait of a young Batuk student from Sri Vidya Ashram
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Portrait of a Sadhu, Godavari River, Nashik, India.
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Portrait of Pooran Sing Baba, Godavari River, Nashik, India.
Sadhu-Varansi-6
Portrait of Baba Shiva, River Ganges, Varanasi, India.
Sadhu Nashik-4
Portrait of Govinda Baba, a 40 yr old Sadhu from Uttar Pradesh.
Portrait of Baba Boothnath, Varanasi, India.
Portrait of Baba Boothnath, Varanasi, India.

To view more of my images, please visit my web esam hassanyeh

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