The Sikh man’s meticulously-bound turban and magnificent beard are arguably the world’s most recognizable symbols of faith, known around the world and unequivocal in its sense of drama and religious allegiance.
Now, London-based photographers Amit and Naroop – best known for their work photographing the likes of Ricky Gervais, Tinie Tempah and boxer Ricky Hatton – have turned their lenses to capture the magnificent splendour of these two ubiquitous symbols of Sikhism through a collection of photographs, aptly titled ‘Singh’.
The collection is signature Amit and Naroop – close-up, impactful and dramatic – and features British Sikh men from all walks of life: from a young student brandishing a ‘Talwar’ sword and an immaculately attired watchmaker through a Sikh storyteller and Highway Planner with a striking resemblance to Bollywood star Ranbir Kapoor to a well-known comedian, magician and even a Surrey-based polo player.
The most striking aspect of the collection of 35 photographs is not merely the subjects’ varied backgrounds but also the manner in which each one of them gives their own twist to the two symbols that bind them together through their faith.
From the whimsical to the conservative, vivid to the muted, the sizes, shapes and colours of the turbans are matched in their variety by the men’s’ magnificent beards: from the stylishly cropped to the free-flowing.
The photographers say: “Many religions determine the way their followers look, but none have such a dramatic and definite ‘look’ as Sikhism.
“And yet, with 30 million Sikhs in the world, there are almost as many ways to wear the turban and beard as there are Sikhs.
“The men who feature in this project are businessmen, boxers, IT professionals, doctors, fashion stylists, temple volunteers, magicians and a host of other occupations all adapting and interpreting the Sikh traditions in their own way.”
Amit and Naroop – Punjabi Sikhs who were born and raised in Southall – say the collection is a “marriage of our faith and skill” and “represents our identity as British born photographers and our roots.”
The ‘Singh’ project has already garnered plenty of attention and acclaim, raising more than £10,000 of funding (beating the original target of £7000) through Kickstarter for a free exhibition that takes place 3 – 15 November at the Framers Gallery in Central London.