A Portrait of India examines life across India. 


Ongoing Project [2015-Present]

man with vitiligo in Hooghly river Kolkata India by photographer photojournalist Emily Garthwaite
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An early morning bather on the edge of the Hooghly river bank in Kolkata, India.

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An early morning bather on the edge of the Hooghly river bank in Kolkata, India.

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men in orange suits in mumbai india by photographer photojournalist Emily Garthwaite
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Tuk Tuk drivers in Mumbai

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Tuk Tuk drivers in Mumbai

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chained elephant at night in varanasi india for wildlife photographer of the year by photographer photojournalist Emily Garthwaite
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An Asian elephant stands visibly traumatised, chained to a temple pillar following a six-hour procession. It was paraded through the streets of Varanasi, noisy with crowds and rocketing fireworks, in the build up to Diwali, the festival of lights. The elephant was swaying and its bloodshot eyes swirled, as its owner looked on anxiously. There are an estimated 3,600 domesticated Asian elephants in India, belonging either to the government, wealthy families or temples and used in festivals throughout the year. They are an endangered species, their wild counterparts under threat from habitat loss and conflict with humans in agricultural areas.

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An Asian elephant stands visibly traumatised, chained to a temple pillar following a six-hour procession. It was paraded through the streets of Varanasi, noisy with crowds and rocketing fireworks, in the build up to Diwali, the festival of lights. The elephant was swaying and its bloodshot eyes swirled, as its owner looked on anxiously. There are an estimated 3,600 domesticated Asian elephants in India, belonging either to the government, wealthy families or temples and used in festivals throughout the year. They are an endangered species, their wild counterparts under threat from habitat loss and conflict with humans in agricultural areas.

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men and women on night bus in calcutta India by photographer photojournalist Emily Garthwaite
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Nightbus, Calcutta

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Nightbus, Calcutta

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man taxi driver in mirror at night in mumbai india by photographer photojournalist Emily Garthwaite
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Taxi driver in Mumbai

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Taxi driver in Mumbai

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silhouette on man in misty pine forest darjeeling india by photographer photojournalist Emily Garthwaite
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Pine forest near Ghum, West Bengal

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Pine forest near Ghum, West Bengal

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boys under water in dhobi ghat mumbai india by photographer photojournalist Emily Garthwaite
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Boys play inside a washing vat in Dhobi Ghat, Mumbai

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Boys play inside a washing vat in Dhobi Ghat, Mumbai

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men wrapped in orange marigold at Malik Ghat flower market Calcutta india by photographer photojournalist Emily Garthwaite
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Marigold seller at Malik Ghat flower market, Calcutta.

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Marigold seller at Malik Ghat flower market, Calcutta.

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walking old man at midday with briefcase in calcutta India by photographer photojournalist Emily Garthwaite
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An elderly gentleman walks back from lunch in Calcutta

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An elderly gentleman walks back from lunch in Calcutta

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hindu worshippers on steps at dawn on river ganges river in varanasi India by photographer photojournalist Emily Garthwaite
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Sunrise on the morning of Chhath Puja Festival in Varanasi

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Sunrise on the morning of Chhath Puja Festival in Varanasi

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indian girl punching karate female empowerment class in bihar india by photographer photojournalist Emily Garthwaite
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Khushboo is from the Musuhar caste, one of the most marginalised communities in India. The threat of child marriage and trafficking is critically high amongst these communities. Female empowerment organisations like Nari Gunjun provide support, safe houses and education for young girls. Khushboo now lives at Nari Gunjun's boarding school in Bihar and has won nationally in karate.

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Khushboo is from the Musuhar caste, one of the most marginalised communities in India. The threat of child marriage and trafficking is critically high amongst these communities. Female empowerment organisations like Nari Gunjun provide support, safe houses and education for young girls. Khushboo now lives at Nari Gunjun's boarding school in Bihar and has won nationally in karate.

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mother and daughter dalit in uttar pradesh india by photographer photojournalist Emily Garthwaite
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Geeta Devi and her daughter Priyanka share lunch in their one room home. Geeta is from the Dalit caste, and works as a manual scavenger, a job that involves removing human excrement by hand. This practice was outlawed in 1993. There are still 1.2 million manual scavengers in India due to poverty and lack of education. Workers never earn more than €20 a year and endure side-effects like constant nausea and headaches, respiratory and skin diseases, anaemia, and carbon monoxide poisoning. Innately dehumanising, the practice also reinforces the deeply ingrained Caste trope that 167 million Indians are “untouchable”.


Those who are currently doing manual scavenging, like Geeta, are able to apply for the government compensation grant and are supported by female empowerment initiatives

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Geeta Devi and her daughter Priyanka share lunch in their one room home. Geeta is from the Dalit caste, and works as a manual scavenger, a job that involves removing human excrement by hand. This practice was outlawed in 1993. There are still 1.2 million manual scavengers in India due to poverty and lack of education. Workers never earn more than €20 a year and endure side-effects like constant nausea and headaches, respiratory and skin diseases, anaemia, and carbon monoxide poisoning. Innately dehumanising, the practice also reinforces the deeply ingrained Caste trope that 167 million Indians are “untouchable”.


Those who are currently doing manual scavenging, like Geeta, are able to apply for the government compensation grant and are supported by female empowerment initiatives

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men on night bus in calcutta India by photographer photojournalist Emily Garthwaite
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Nightbus, Calcutta

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Nightbus, Calcutta

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indian school girl female empowerment class in bihar india by photographer photojournalist Emily Garthwaite
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Schoolgirls in Danapur, Bihar

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Schoolgirls in Danapur, Bihar

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shadows of indian ferry passngers in mumbai India by photographer photojournalist Emily Garthwaite
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Ferry Crossing at India Gate, Mumbai

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Ferry Crossing at India Gate, Mumbai

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praying cloaked hindu man in varanasi india by photographer photojournalist Emily Garthwaite
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A man prays on Manikarnika Ghat in Varanasi

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A man prays on Manikarnika Ghat in Varanasi

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rajasthan man painting in pushkar india by photographer photojournalist Emily Garthwaite
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Pushkar, Rajasthan

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Pushkar, Rajasthan

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men and women on night bus in calcutta India by photographer photojournalist Emily Garthwaite
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Nightbus, Calcutta

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Nightbus, Calcutta

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indian boy in car window in udaipur India by photographer photojournalist Emily Garthwaite
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A boy sits inside his family car in Udaipur, Rajasthan

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A boy sits inside his family car in Udaipur, Rajasthan

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pink and blue wedding plates in udaipur India by photographer photojournalist Emily Garthwaite
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Wedding party, Udaipur

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Wedding party, Udaipur

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burning legs on fire during cremation on banks of river ganges in varanasi India by photographer photojournalist Emily Garthwaite
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I lived in Varanasi for a couple of months and spent much of my time on the Burning Ghats where Indian families take their dead relatives to be cremated on the banks of the Ganges. This is the grandfather of an Indian family I met. They specifically asked for photographs of them with their relative before and during the cremation. I also took this photo.

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I lived in Varanasi for a couple of months and spent much of my time on the Burning Ghats where Indian families take their dead relatives to be cremated on the banks of the Ganges. This is the grandfather of an Indian family I met. They specifically asked for photographs of them with their relative before and during the cremation. I also took this photo.

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men smoking in Malik Ghat flower market in Calcutta india  by photographer photojournalist Emily Garthwaite
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Early morning at Malik Ghat flower market, Calcutta

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Early morning at Malik Ghat flower market, Calcutta

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mahout woman with vitiligo by elephant in Jaipur India by photographer photojournalist Emily Garthwaite
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A mahout’s daughter with vitiligo stands beside her family's elephant in Jaipur, India

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A mahout’s daughter with vitiligo stands beside her family's elephant in Jaipur, India

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Hindu woman reflection in Pushkar India by photographer photojournalist Emily Garthwaite
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A young mother poses in a local restaurant on the outskirts of Pushkar, Rajasthan

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A young mother poses in a local restaurant on the outskirts of Pushkar, Rajasthan

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Woman sitting in paper rubbish recycling in calcutta India by photographer photojournalist Emily Garthwaite
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A woman working at a paper recycling plant in Kolkata, a city recently celebrated for its waste management schemes which deserve to be implemented around the rest of India

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A woman working at a paper recycling plant in Kolkata, a city recently celebrated for its waste management schemes which deserve to be implemented around the rest of India

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bus and tuk-tuk traffic in Mumbai India by photographer photojournalist Emily Garthwaite
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Rush hour, Mumbai

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Rush hour, Mumbai

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muslim man standing between trees in calcutta india by photographer photojournalist Emily Garthwaite
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Street life in Calcutta

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Street life in Calcutta

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man looking in mirror reflection in udaipur India by photographer photojournalist Emily Garthwaite
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Mirror shop, Udaipur

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Mirror shop, Udaipur

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sleeping man by dog in black and white  incalcutta India by photographer photojournalist Emily Garthwaite
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A sweeper sleeps beside a waste compacting machine in Kalighat, Calcutta.

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A sweeper sleeps beside a waste compacting machine in Kalighat, Calcutta.

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sisters and seagulls on boat at sea in mumbai india by photographer photojournalist Emily Garthwaite
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Three sisters feed the seagulls in Mumbai

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Three sisters feed the seagulls in Mumbai

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