In a Kolkata market, proud vendors are posing alongside their delicate and colorful flora.
Flowers are a hugely important part of Indian culture, used in everything from temple rituals to festivals and parties – and Malik Ghat flower market is the largest of its kind in India. Located in Kolkata, next to the Hooghly river, it attracts more than 2,000 sellers each day, who flocked to peddle their blooms amid frantic scenes.
“I became fascinated with the place, and the flower sellers in particular captured my attention. I really liked the way they transport their flowers; sometimes it almost looked like they were wearing big flower dresses. I also liked how these strong, masculine men would handle their flowers with so much care, as if they were little, precious things.
There are a lot of superstitions and religious beliefs surrounding flowers in India. For example, I wasn’t able to photograph some of the flower sellers because their flowers were holy, and they would lose their “power” if photographed.
I shot the portraits on a plain and simple background so the flower sellers would really stand out. I like how each man poses with his flowers in a different way, but all of them with a shared gentleness: the masculine man and his beautiful flower.” —Ken Hermann
– Flower Men is published by Kehrer and available here.