The Streets of Varanasi- A Photographic Journey

Regarded as one of the most sacred cities in the world by the Hindus, Varanasi, historically known as Benares, has been touted as “older than history, older than tradition, older even than legend, and looks twice as old as all of them put together” by Mark Twain. The Ganges River runs through the heart of Varanasi and many Hindus take pilgrimages to bathe in the sacred river, washing themselves of their sins. Fascinated with the people in one of India’s oldest cities, James Hotham, a photographer from Bath, England, began a project in January 2012 photographing the communities living along and behind the riverfront. He has captured the people and their city in such a way that you feel as if you are right there with them.

After the completion of his university education, James Hotham moved to Hong Kong, where he was influenced by the journalists he encountered to begin to travel and photograph more widely in the region of Asia. James is attracted to photography for “its use as a means to reflect and report on the marginalisation and oppression of specific groups within a society.” He has produced a series of stories focused on the caste system in India and the destruction of historic neighborhoods in China. He has remarkable albums of the sari Weavers of Varanasi, many of whom have lost their jobs due to power loom weaving and uprising costs of silk, the Musahars, one of the most economically and socially disadvantaged groups in all of India, and Beijing’s Disappearing Hutongs. Click on the links for a brief history of each, along with Hotham’s photographic immersion into each culture.

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  1. Aashkasays:

    Why is there a lighter almost an outline formed around most portraits?

  2. James Hothamsays:

    The lighter line around some of the portraits occurred as a result of the editing process. In the case where some of the images were overexposed corrections were made using the “highlights, shadows” function in photoshop. The line you refer to occurred as a result of trying to create a correctly exposed image using this function in photoshop. I hope this explains, if not welcome to message me at

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