In a Kolkata Market, the Flower Men Wear Their Wares

A photographer offers “beautiful images made in a rough, unlikely environment”: portraits of vendors from a flower market in India.

A few years ago I was on an assignment in India. I had a day off, so I went to the Mullick Ghat flower market in Kolkata. It’s one of the largest floral wholesalers in Asia—a huge warren of stalls, more than a century old, with some 2,000 vendors setting up every day. Seasonal flowers arrive on trucks early each morning.

The crazy, hectic atmosphere fascinated me. But more than anything, I was drawn to the way the male sellers carried their flowers. They were macho men, but they held their petals in an almost ladylike way. One guy looked like he was wearing a floral dress. Intrigued by this masculine-feminine contrast, I went back two years later to shoot a series of portraits.

Flowers are used for everything in India, from festivals and parties to religious rituals. The variety is enormous: brightly hued hibiscuses, vivid crimson roses, jasmine bouquets, fragrant lotus and magnolia flowers. But I decided to photograph only the species that I saw the vendors carrying.

Read This Next

These ants can shrink and regrow their brains

How to stop discarded face masks from polluting the planet

‘Tiger King’ stars’ face scrutiny in court

Go Further

Subscriber Exclusive Content

Why are people so dang obsessed with Mars?

How viruses shape our world

The era of greyhound racing in the U.S. is coming to an end

See how people have imagined life on Mars through history

See how NASA’s new Mars rover will explore the red planet

Why are people so dang obsessed with Mars?

How viruses shape our world

The era of greyhound racing in the U.S. is coming to an end

See how people have imagined life on Mars through history

See how NASA’s new Mars rover will explore the red planet

Why are people so dang obsessed with Mars?

How viruses shape our world

The era of greyhound racing in the U.S. is coming to an end

See how people have imagined life on Mars through history

See how NASA’s new Mars rover will explore the red planet