Tarana Patel-Chatterjee, 38, photo artist, has turned
her moments from her travel to 28 countries into work
It was love at first sight with the pyramids and the vast
desert of Egypt in her adolescence that turned into a deep-
rooted fascination for travel for Tarana Patel-Chatterjee.
The 38-year-old photo-artist by passion and educator by
profession, was born and brought up in Ahmedabad.
She presently resides in the US. In the past 20 years,
Tarana has travelled 28 countries and captured 40,000
From this huge collection, she has culled 60 rare stills shot in 10
countries displayed at her first solo week-long exhibition,
OnTheLoose, starting today at a private art gallery in the city.
Spontaneity, sharpness, variety and depth are the elements that
run through her collection. People, landscapes, architecture,
food, lifestyle, rituals and music comprise her subjects.
“My passion for travel, need to document my memories and
record my special moments at a particular place taught me pho-
tography,” she says. Alumnus of Udgam School, Tarana, went to
Germany for graduation in 1993. While pursuing her bachelor in
economics at Frankfurt’s Goethe University, she saw photographs
of Turkey clicked by her fellow student. “It reminded me of my
childhood love for travel and photography. In an instant I made up
my mind — once I finish my bachelors, my first excursion into
photography would begin.”
She completed studies in 1996 and planned a trip to the US. And
once on the loose, she never turned back. “My first solo exhibition
is primarily a display of my best souvenirs that I have collected in the
past two decades. I have returned to Ahmedabad for my first show,
as it is my hometown from where my journey began.”
BURMA AND ITS GOLDEN PAGODAS
Inspired by National Geographic photographer Aron Huey’s images of Burma,
Tarana spent 30 days in Burma in 2012. “My route stretched from Cambodia to
Burma and from Bhutan to Nepal. Though I am selective about what subject and
moment to click, I took about 2,400 photographs on this stretch. My attempt
was to capture its rustic unexplored elegance. When I was in Rangoon, the
2,500-year anniversary of a Buddhist temple – The Shwedagon Pagoda, also
known as the Great Dagon Pagoda, was being celebrated. I collected the treas-
ure of ritualistic beauty of this 99-metre gilded pagoda in my camera,” she says.
For Tarana, the real Burma is in its temples, music and rustic lifestyle.
Tarana observed that Argentina has tropical weather on its north and Antarctic-
weather to its south. From the Iguazu Falls on the border of Misiones, to Ushuaia,
the capital of Argentina, which is the southernmost city in the world – she has
captured the 15-day journey in 1,500 photographs.
NOVA SCOTIA & ITS URBAN LIFE
Nova Scotia, one of Canada’s three maritime provinces, is not frequented by
tourists. The lifestyle is highly urbanised yet in sync with the surroundings. “I
stayed there for 18 days in 2013. I saw that their life was connected with na-
ture. They recycled waste, paper and plastic. I drove 3,000 miles around Nova
Scotia and visited Cape Breton Island – a spot which is almost unseen by ma-
jority of the global tourists. I lived through unexpected moments and captured
them in about 800 stills.”
ISRAEL AND JORDAN: FASCINATING MIDDLE EAST
As Tarana puts it, a 10-day trip through the Islamic Middle East countries gave
her the opportunity to get into deep and interesting conversations. “The ambi-
ence was heavy and loaded, as if it carried the burden of political uncertainty.
Tel Aviv’s cityscape, its local folks’ preparedness for calamities and readiness
to accept life with its surprises and shocks, a province where people had
fought wars. Conversing with them, understanding their apprehensions deep-
ened my vision of life.” She captured ancient architectural beauty of Jerusa-
lem, cityscapes of Tel Aviv and natural sculptures born out of marble rock for-
mation process in Jordan in 1,200 shots.
WHAT TRAVEL MEANS TO ME
Travelling for me is having a heightened sense of
awareness, readiness to experiment, exploring new
locales, imbibing new cultures, researching on the lo-
cal food, culture and music. Travelling means to un-
derstand the spirit of that place. I urge Gujaratis that
every country has its own rich folklore, music, tradi-
tions, food and lifestyle. When you are in Rome, be
Roman. That is the way you can maximise your con-
nection with that region.
Tarana Patel-Chatterjee will speak on Bitten by the
travel bug: Travel can teach you what schooling can’t!
– at AMA on February 24 at 6.30 pm