Stories from the Road: Under the Stairs, Udaipur

Stories from the Road is a collection of stories about my own photographic adventures in South Asia. Sometimes the stories are exciting and sometimes mundane and at times emotional. I hope you enjoy the pictures and the story.


Even though I would say many of my photographs are taken with a snapshot aesthetic, I do love a photograph or other art with a strong structure. I really do like the elements and principles of design. Perhaps I should think about them consciously more often while making photographs. Writing that down makes me think I sound kind of stupid. However, I am not a Henri Cartier-Bresson type of street photographer. I can’t stand around waiting for something to happen. However, every once in a while I happen upon a series of design elements and principles for me to photograph.

The photograph above was taken in Udiapur in 2015, however, it did not make it into my series Udiapur Remembered. The photograph is a vertical shot. It is a cropped in view under a set of stairs. The left fifth of the photograph is framed by the white wall of the building. The top right corner is filled by the profile of the stairs. The bottom of the photograph contains green plant life and the center of the frame is composed of a hand painted wall which is showing signs of ware. The painting is heavily damaged, however, it looks like it is either just decorative or perhaps a painting of an interior. The colors in the painting are sea foam green, light blue and maroon. The motif is an an arched floral design. Below this design is a thick red painted strip with a thin black one above it. There is also light blue paint above the red and black strips but it is impossible to tell what the blue paint is representing, there is too much damage.

The photograph is also filled with lines. The wall along the left side of the frame creates a very strong thick line. This line is mimicked by the vertical lines of the stair railing posts. The stairs themselves create horizontal and vertical lines as well as diagonal line. The lines take the viewers eye all around the photograph so that no part is overlooked. Triangular shapes are also created. One is created in the top right-hand corner of the photograph because of the stairs. Under the stairs another triangular shape is created through  the shadows.

Another design element in the photograph is visual texture. The main texture is created through the pealing paint. However, the texture of the concrete wall also creates texture. These man-made textures are counter-balanced by the natural texture of the plants in the foreground. Usually I would think these rough textures were uninviting, however, the rustic feeling of this space is somehow inviting. I want to examine the deteriorating painting further.

This photograph represents the rarely found calm of Udiapur. If you look at photographs of Udaipur, it could be represented as romantic, magical, busy or chaotic. Now I have walk past this spot numerous time and it is a strangely quiet slice of town, a rare find anywhere in India. I have to keep a look out for more spots like this one.

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By |2018-10-15T14:33:09-05:00November 8th, 2016|India|0 Comments

About the Author:

Betsy Williamson is an assistant professor of art in the state of New Mexico. Before coming to New Mexico for this job she was an adjunct professor throughout Dallas/Fort Worth, Texas, teaching photography and art appreciation. Between September 2015 and May 2017, she took a break from teaching to pursue art, research and life in India. Now she is back to teaching and part-timing it in India.

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