Portrait of Empress Market

Portrait of Empress Market

This is a portrait of the living, breathing Empress market in Saddar, Karachi which was built during the British Raj. It is a magical place where people from all walks of life come together. There is bright colour everywhere – from the rich spices to exotic oils and every kind of tea imaginable. I had been meaning to photograph there for a while now and finally got the chance when I visiting Karachi over new year to photograph a wedding. Empress Market is not the safest of places to go around with an expensive DSLR camera as you can attract unwanted attention so I had to be very quick with taking the pictures. Interestingly, contrary to my expectations, all the people were really up for letting me take their pictures – some even getting quite upset and offended if I didn’t photograph them!


This fruit seller kept persisting me to take his picture so here he is with his prized pomegranate. I was quite taken with his pride and delight at being photographed with his fruit.


A fruit seller selling fruit on a cart in Saddar, Karachi.


These fruit sellers buy wholesale boxes of fruit from the fruit market on the outskirts of Karachi and spend the day retailing them on the streets or local markets within the city. Their fruit cart sometimes also doubles up as a bed. Each fruit seller appears to be shackled to his cart and cannot leave it even for a moment.


Fruit carts as far as the eye can see!


To me, this shopkeeper symbolises the hard working middle-class of Karachi who keep their head down and pull through each day and despite the many social, political and security related problems, they somehow stay positive. I was drawn to the bright spices and the innocence on the shopkeepers face.


This picture for me encapsulates the spirit and life of Empress Market – The place alive with activity and everyone going about their business. And yet there are some…


I love the silent gaze of the boy sitting quietly admist the hustle and bustle of the busy Karachi market. The wisdom and maturity in his eyes contradict his tender age and show signs of having lived a hard life.

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