The Time I Met the Taj Kids | Agra

(this article appeared in the 2015 3rd Quarter issue of Resource Magazine in New York)

Growing up I remember flicking through every glossy pages of travel magazines of photographs that depicts beautiful places and interesting portraits of people belonging in different cultures. My mental immersion in those printed images further inspired myself to dig my own wanderlust and eventually, a life of travels. 

Since then I always carry a camera to capture the same travel images that once inspired me to follow the idea of exploring the world. Dozens of trips later within my own country of the Philippines and other nations in Asia, I can say I’ve collected many favorite photographs. But there is this particular photograph that stands out among the others.

During my month long trip to India in March of 2014, I met these kids at the sight of what was supposed to be the ‘Black Taj’ – a littered ruin across the lake of the magnificent Taj Mahal. Legend has it that Mughal emperor Shah Jahan desired to build another mausoleum for himself similar to Taj Mahal which he built in memory of his third wife, Mumtaz Mahal. The construction was halted when Shah Jahan was toppled and imprisoned by his own son Aurangzeb.

As I stand staring at the spectacular form of the Taj from afar, a group of kids converged around me and displayed their cheery faces in front of me. At first, I concentrated on shooting a wide landscape shot of the river before I playfully pointed my camera at them. Not long after, they were expressively posing for my camera and there was these three children all barely clothed decently, disheveled with unkempt features – quickly huddling themselves together for an impromptu group portrait. Looking at the images afterward, I see a very blissful set of demeanor that up to this day inspires me to no end.

In a heartwarming display of child-like wonder and innocence, these kids produces a very humbling image. They remind me how one living within simple means, could still convey such happiness and in their case, an air of cheerfulness that perfectly accompanied the background of the ultimate symbol of love - the Taj Mahal.

ISO: 100% innocence and pure joy 
Aperture Speed: Steady Morning
Shutter: Wide-eyed wonder foregrounding a symbol of love