Uniform Portraits | Charles Freger / by Julia Walck

At work we're in the process of coming up with a new product line; and I'm gathering inspiration from anything and everything. In doing so, I stumble upon some pretty awesome things on the Internet.

One source of inspiration was decorated elephants, and Indian patterns / textiles. I soon found myself on the website of Charles Freger, a National Geographic photographer who specializes in "Portraits Photographiques et Uniformes". Freger travels the world and takes photos of different groups in cultures who have a specific unified style. From schools in India to horse jockeys, and the Chinese opera to French waterpolo teams, he's been to quite a few places around the world. 

Two of my favorite projects are the Mardi Gras Indians and the painted elephants; the contrast and color in each photograph are simply amazing. Not to mention the amount of detail put into every single aspect of the outfit. 

Mardi Gras Indians are very secretive, and typically only show in costume during Mardi Gras and carnivals. Their suits cost thousands of dollars, and as you can imagine are very weighty. Each suit is individual to the wearer as they design and create their own out of beads, feathers and sequins.

In Rajasthan, India is where the Elephant Festival Kerala takes place. Upwards of 100 elephants are painted and adorned in pure gold and silver plated caparisons, bells and necklaces. It takes place in March the day before Holi (the festival of color), and is definitely something I'd love to attend one day! 

For now, I'll keep looking at the photographs filled with color and life and dream on.