My name is Adria Ellis. I am a photographer and I am preparing for my first trip to India!
Over the course of the last three years I have fallen in love with my newest camera. The thing is, is that this camera happens to be my phone. This small, light weight, silent camera has brought me more joy, creative passion, and enthusiasm than I had ever experienced using all of the other gear—and I have all of it!
I am what they call an iphoneographer, or a mobile artist.
I have traveled in and out of the country a lot in the last three or four years and when I’m coming and going I always have to say what I do, and why I am there. It was never easy to answer those questions. I used to always say I was a student because it was such a safe answer. It’s taken awhile but I have become more comfortable when answering that question. I just speak my truth—I am a photographer, I am a yogi and I am a tourist.
I have to say tourist—they don’t offer seeker/recorder.
I have a degree in photography from Brooks Institute of Photography. The truth is, that I didn’t last long in the world of professional photography. I was doing production work for awhile and working on a huge advertising campaign. Clients were there from Europe waiting for models that I was responsible for photographing, describing, and presenting. They were all in there their early 20’s and the stress of them possibly not showing up made we want to puke. I couldn’t stand it.
They all showed up and everything was fine but then I faxed all the confirmations from the blank side of the paper. No one knew what had gone wrong, but I figured it out. I did not work well in this environment.
My photography education lead me right to being a yogi.
In 2000, I went to Los Angeles and was certified to teach Bikram Yoga. I moved to Crested Butte, Colorado and opened a yoga studio and then a juice bar and coffee shop. Occasionally I would shoot the fall colors, and the wild flowers but no one ever saw them or “liked” them. There were no comments, it was just dark. They were in the drawer.
I left Crested Butte for Kauai, Hawaii and have been teaching Bikram there for 5 years. In the last 4 years it has become important for me to connect more with my creativity. It started with doing yoga photography, but once the iPhone entered my life everything changed. That sounds so dramatic and cliche but it is my truth.
I love seeing the perfection in what is around me. My yoga is now my photography. When I am taking pictures I am present. I connect with my environment, I feel what I see and the internal satisfaction is immense. I look for a sense of balance in the frame and then I feel that sense of balance in my body. I like to imagine that the viewer can feel this as well. I experience a visual joy, feel it in my entire being and I feel centered. I am happy.
The size of the iPhone and it’s simplicity allows me to enjoy this process so much more than I used to. It’s a more spontaneous experience, I feel more freedom, and there is so little weight. For me less is more. I choose to trade the controls and sophistication for simplicity and freedom.
I am excited and nervous about this adventure. I have a sneaky suspicion there may be a little bit more to it than what we saw in The Darjeeling Limited. I am eager to interact with people that are so different than me but I am scared to be somewhere so foreign and well, I guess dirty. I’m a little afraid of getting sick. More than anything I am eager to experience something so new. Creatively, I am excited for the people, the colors, the chaos, and the cows! I am curious as to how I will feel when I’m taking pictures in India. Will I see balance and feel peace? I think I will.
I have been told by many that Indian people are lovely, and they’ll look you right in the eye and smile. Perhaps they have a level of acceptance and a lack of expectations that we Americans are not familiar with. I think it is valuable to see how and where other people in the world live. How they find there light and the joy they poses living a life so different from what we are accustomed to. I seek to find more gratitude and appreciation for my everyday life.
I am leaving March 14th and traveling from Newark to Delhi—14 hours and 10 minutes.
From what I gather getting on a packed bus or train with your whole family and everyone’s animals for a 24 hour journey is normal in India. My practice begins right off the bat, as I figure out how to appreciate this flight.
This most wonderful camera of mine brings one more thing to the picture—the ease of sharing. For the longest time so much of my work lived in slide sheets, in binders and on shelves in closets. Now I share what I see, how I feel, and what I experience everyday. For me there is no doubt that less is more.
I imagine that while in India I will experience this more than I have ever imagined. I would love to share this journey with you. I aim to send images to elephant journal daily, and you can find me on Instagram @aconica. You can like Aconica on Facebook and look for my journey on my website.
Love elephant and want to go steady?
Editorial Assistant: Dana Gornall/Editor: Catherine Monkman
Photo Credit: Provided by author