Revelling in Bees: Anupam Nath Captures Unique Holi Festival Moment


In the northeastern Indian city of Guwahati, the Holi festival, a spirited eruption of color and joy, sprawls across streets and alleys with revelers dousing each other in brightly pigmented powders. For twenty years, photographer Anupam Nath has been threading his way through these exuberant celebrations, expertly documenting the event and uniquely capturing the nuanced details that often elude the untrained eye.

This year, an unexpected encounter led to an extraordinary image that would not only symbolize the vibrant Holi festivities but also underline Nath’s uncanny knack for seizing the decisive moment.

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Nath has been making photographic chronicles of Holi since 2004, wherein he ardently searches for compelling faces among the hordes of jubilant participants. This year, amidst the laugh lines and hues smeared faces, one individual surprisingly snatched his discerning gaze, a man whose face bore the brilliant marks of the festival, but, unlike the rest, was being swarmed by bees.

With a disarming sight unfolding before him and an unsteady, apparently inebriated man at the heart of it, Nath found his year’s remarkable subject, a singular visual narrative within a swarm of bees and a riot of color.

The journey of capturing this raw and intriguing image took Nath to heights – both literally and figuratively. To ensure that his equipment was shielded from the onslaught of color and dust, Nath positioned himself atop a stage where a DJ was controlling the music. Simultaneously, this vantage point lent a commanding view, setting the stage for incredible frames.

Armed with two cameras donned with different lenses, Nath employed his Sony A1 camera coupled with a 70-200mm 2.8 lens to freeze this riveting moment. The resulting image was a full frame, devoid of any cropping, capturing the scene in its untamed, organic glory.

Nath believes that such unfettered frames, usurping the commonplace and banal, are viewed with a keen eye and an appreciation for their unconventional nature. A photographer’s journey features moments that can be visualized and planned, leading to shots that are grasped intuitively. But sometimes, serendipity plays its part, offering images wrapped in spontaneity.

With this compelling image, Nath once again demonstrated his swift decision-making skills, choosing the exact moment to capture the scene, and selecting the right camera and lens to frame the moment. His belief that this photograph works comes from its quality of uniqueness that wholly grasped the essence quickly and spontaneously.