potter and family-sm on Flickr.

In 1980, while hunting for a well-hidden Megalithic archaeological site with my spouse, Robin, near the village of Kundrathur in Tamil Nadu, we stumbled onto the local village potter at work. We asked to watch him for a while, and he showed us all aspects of his pottery making and firing. He was kind enough to let me photograph him at work, his primitive wheel, his tool kit, etc.

After a couple hours of “chatting”–he spoke virtually no English and we spoke no Tamil, but we managed to communicate. When we were preparing to leave him, he asked us to stay and photograph his whole family. We agreed, and the family members all disappeared to their quarters to dress up for the photograph.

The sunlight was harsh. I had no fill flash with me that day, and Kodachrome was entirely the wrong film for the situation. Nonetheless, this is the picture we made. I printed an 8x10 and mailed it to the Potter, c/o the Village headman, who had given me a basic address. I have always hoped that picture made it to its intended destination.