I had one goal when I set off for India – don’t photograph the Taj Mahal.

This early discipline of wanting to explore India off the beaten track stemmed from Dad’s photography work from the 1980’s in Northern India and Pakistan. I was inspired to follow in his footsteps whilst examining the influence of globalisation and tourism over the last 30 years in India’s more remote areas, and how its people, cultures and landscapes either embraced or rejected its affects.

Oh India - Thomas James Parrish
Oh India - Thomas James Parrish

As I sat on the platform at Ajmer Station - the closest train station to the popular travellers destination of Pushkar, Rajasthan - I was entertained by a group of children. They playfully flirted in and out of my presence as the station acted as their playground – jumping on and off stationary trains, poking their heads through the windows and chasing rats on the tracks, occasionally waving to me from all ends and sides of the platform. One of them however, was more interested in keeping me company than being caught up in game time. Assam sat with me for almost an hour until it was time for me to board, exchanging broken English and Hindi, we learned what we could about each other when we weren’t sharing turns at taking each other’s portrait. His inquisitive eyes and effortless innocence made this encounter one of my most cherished human interactions.

Oh India - Thomas James Parrish
Oh India - Thomas James Parrish
Oh India - Thomas James Parrish
Oh India - Thomas James Parrish

As a documentary photographer my work explores, exposes and educates on relevant social issues, from environmental disasters to humanitarian crises, and everything in between, combining my passion for creative storytelling with my desire to inspire positive social change. Working closely with local NGOs, charities, social groups and communities, this work has taken me across the world and has allowed me to work on projects and campaigns with refugees, religious groups, environmental agencies and education programs – sectors of society I strive to champion and build understanding of through my work.

Photography for me started when I travelled to India – I had been a struggling musician before I decided to hang up my guitar, pick up a camera, and get on a plane. My photographic influence had been set by my dad, who travelled to India in 1980 with an OM1, as well as Egypt, Afghanistan and Antarctica, taking photos which would expose me to distant cultures and peoples, provoking my bug for travel and adventure photography. My work in India explored the relationships between people and their environments, and the ever-pressing influence of globalisation and climate change.

 

Oh India - Thomas James Parrish
Oh India - Thomas James Parrish

After 6 months in India I hosted my first photography exhibition, run as a fundraiser event for a remote education program I visited and documented during my time in West Bengal. The success of this exhibition opened my eyes to the wonderful possibilities of the photography world, and what my role could be within that – offering a bridge between cultures and societies, sharing stories to influence positive change and progression, raising money through art for causes I believe in.

In the 3 years since my exhibition, my work has explored the refugee crisis in Italy for my project ‘A Voice for a Refugee’ – sharing stories and realities through photography to inspire empathy with refugees and to dissuade negative public opinion. My most recent project ‘Camino for the Amazon’ saw me walk and document the 850km Camino del Norte to raise awareness about the fires in the Amazon in 2019, and to raise funds for relief efforts through sponsorships and photography sales.

 

Oh India - Thomas James Parrish
Oh India - Thomas James Parrish
Oh India - Thomas James Parrish
Oh India - Thomas James Parrish
Oh India - Thomas James Parrish
Oh India - Thomas James Parrish

These projects are driven by my passion for exposing and championing environmental and humanitarian issues that exist in today's societies, all over the world. Inspired by reality and the events of today, I look for stories and stand up for injustices that might otherwise be disregarded. With my work I try to emphasise our responsibility as humans to care for the world, and to express the importance of identity, through engaging storytelling. I hope I ensure a positive impact for humanity and the natural world and that my photographs can act as an instrument for inspiration and change.

Oh India - Thomas James Parrish
Oh India - Thomas James Parrish
Oh India - Thomas James Parrish
Oh India - Thomas James Parrish
Oh India - Thomas James Parrish
Oh India - Thomas James Parrish
Oh India - Thomas James Parrish
Oh India - Thomas James Parrish

The road to Leh, Ladakh was far from the most comfortable journey I’ve ever embarked upon, but what it lacked in elbow room and tarmac it more than made up for in visual masterpieces for the entirety of the 15 hours from Keylong. As we stopped at one of several passport checkpoints on what can only be described as a dirt track winding its way through the majesty of the Himalayas, these porter horses - carrying goods to meet tourist demands - were ushered off the road and down the ravine to the stream below. As their guide encouraged them enthusiastically if not brutally, with a rather large and thick stick to the rump, the lead horse became entangled in the guiding wire. Panic ensued as it tried to free itself from the hindrance, creating this scene as its comrades followed calmly and cautiously behind. Thankfully no horses were injured.

 

Oh India - Thomas James Parrish
Oh India - Thomas James Parrish
Oh India - Thomas James Parrish
Oh India - Thomas James Parrish

Oh India - Thomas James Parrish
Oh India - Thomas James Parrish
Thomas James Parrish
More from this project and further projects by Thomas Parrish can be found online

 

www.thomasjamesparrish.com

Instagram: @thomasjamesparrish

Twitter: @thomasjparrish