Flowers are a hugely important part of Indian culture, used in everything from temple rituals to festivals and parties – and Malik Ghat flower market [also known as Mallick or Mullick Ghat] 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 flock to peddle their blooms amid frantic scenes.
After having visited Kolkata and its flower market for the first time, Danish photographer Ken Hermann decided to take portraits of the sellers, their magnificent garlands often appearing in stark contrast to their own dusty and sweat-soaked attire. Passionate about individuals and their unique histories, he explores the fragile balance between people and their environment, between tradition and modernity. Hermann’s photography seamlessly weaves cultural and political content, blending documentary and cinematic portraiture. His application of lighting, combining artificial with natural, takes the images into a surreal space, creating dreamlike visions of everyday people.
S.K. Bhagat with a garland of Chinese hibiscus
Shankar Shah with roses
Kulwinder with marigolds
Shambhunath Dutt with jungle geraniums
Angad Ray with false ashoka leaves
Ashok Golda with strings of jasmine
Ramdayal Yadav with cockscomb
Sanjit Malik with gladioli
Rajesh Yadav with strings of butterfly peas
Sadhu Malakar with a jasmine garland
Sanju Joshi with marigolds
Ranjan Rai with a white lotus bloom
Words by Gemma Fletcher, from Flower Men, published in 2017 by Kehrer Verlag.