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Robert Polidori on the eternal appeal of India’s blue city

Robert Polidori

on the eternal appeal of India’s blue city

on the eternal appeal of India’s blue city

August/September 2017

I try always to photograph places from an unusual angle. This picture is of Mehrangarh Fort in Jodhpur, but taken from the back, giving a vantage point that tourists rarely see. It’s of the part of the fort where the workers live and work. I see a beauty in that; the view is less obvious, more real.

This image is actually a collage comprised of four shots, knitted together. The main reason I did this is because it allows the viewer to experience the landscape in much finer detail, without the distortion at the edges that a wide-angle lens brings. I shot the individual images one after another – which meant having to match up all the tiny details when it came to creating the final composition. I want people to look at it and feel as if they are really there.

I’ve been going to India since the late 1980s and I love how little of it is hidden away. I always say that all of India’s sins are on the surface. You can see poverty and rubbish alongside grandeur.

Rajasthan has more than its fair share of grand buildings, which is probably why it attracts so many visitors. It’s still incredible. As with so much of India, it has a sense of eternity, as if you can look at a place and see back thousands of years.

I love the colour of the buildings in Jodhpur, with their indigo-blue exteriors (I can never understand why people want to photograph India in black and white). I don’t know why they’re that particular blue, but it is a city where jewellery is made, much of it using lapis lazuli, and the blue of the buildings echoes the stones used in the jewellery.

I took this picture five years ago. It was a grey afternoon, which – with the blues of the buildings – gives it this cool, calm feeling. From the outside, anyway, India has a kind of civility, a gentleness. It’s a culture once more in an ascendancy; you can really feel that when you’re there.

Robert Polidori: 20 Photographs of the Getty Museum marks the 20th anniversary of the Getty, Los Angeles (December 12th-May 6th 2018).
When visiting Jodhpur, stay at Ratan Vilas

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