Today I am sharing work from last spring's Holi Festival commissioned by Columbia University Student Life—and the most difficult photography experience I've ever had. I became fixated on the idea of shooting this assignment on color film and remained stubborn, even as I started to worry: how do I protect my gear? How do I change rolls of film with all the dust and paint flying around?
In the end, I cut a few holes in a plastic bag and taped it all down to the camera (this would later come loose), stupidly wore white sneakers and headed out. It turned out to be a freezing April day—and as I stepped outside, it started to rain. So here is the behind-the-scenes story: icy hands almost numb barely able to wind the film up, my camera's focus not working (I guestimated the distance in meters), anxiety, exhaustion, hunger and with the supplies of powder paint running out, a courtyard of wet, muddy brown paint, the colors warping into each other; and here are the photos which show only the most excellent moments of that morning, a post-apocalyptic paint party, a warm day. This is the hypocrisy, a danger of photography—its capacity to glorify, to forget the worst, remember the whole experience for a better that wasn't quite there. But then again, my white shoes aren't white anymore, upon examining my CU baseball hat and my lens, glints of blue peek out and since this day, I've trusted myself to rely less on the technology my camera provides me and more on my own instinct. So maybe this is not selective memory but rather the retrospective lesson, the new understandings that come after the fact.