Features  -   -  Share

I was interviewing my friend Rav Gill for my first documentary, Zimmers of Southall. At the end of the interview, I mentioned that I wanted to come back and take some more photos as the project would eventually become a photobook. Rav responded by saying, “We’re gonna be busy as my brother’s getting married in a few weeks. Can you come back then?” I asked if there would be BMWs on the morning of the wedding, to which he replied, “Yeah, my E30 is gonna be done up for the day.” That was enough for me; I put the date in my diary.

Two weeks later, on a Saturday morning, I decided to head to Southall in west London at 7:45 a.m. Traditionally, on the morning of a Panjabi Sikh wedding, either the bride or the groom will host their immediate family and friends to prepare to travel to the Gurdwara together. This is when family photos are taken and an opportunity for those celebrating to add a personal touch to the proceedings. What made this particular event unique was the presence of numerous BMWs. Rav brought out his modified BMW E30 to pick up his brother, Inderjit. He revved the car alongside two super bikes, creating a big burnout before launching into a series of doughnuts. I captured as much as I could, shooting on 35mm film without being able to see the results immediately. Little did I know that this photo would go on to symbolise the entire Zimmers of Southall project.

For me, capturing this photo encapsulated my process and practice as a community photographer: I had gained the trust of the family, who’d allowed me into their personal space on that special day. The entire occasion felt familiar and comfortable. I trusted my instincts to show up, and I was able to capture this precise moment on 35mm film, amid the noise, smoke, and the stress of composing the perfect photo. Most importantly, I was able to capture this uniquely Panjabi Sikh story in modern-day Britain, telling a contemporary tale of the present moment – a joyful noise and a piece of art.

And all of this happened within the span of an hour, and it was done.

Copyright © Hark1karan, 2020-2021

Hark1karan is a community photographer and outsider artist. He is the author of three books: PIND, KISAAN and Grass Roots (Photobooks), and the director of Zimmers of Southall 1 & 2. Follow him here.

Stay up to date with Something Curated