On a scouting trip to Rajasthan, India, in Fall of 1977, I was standing on the balcony of Amber Palace, overlooking the surrounding landscape. Behind me a marble colonnade paralleled the balcony, and as I entered it on my way out of the palace, the striking pattern of repeating arches stopped me in my tracks. The scene was perfect ... it only needed the right subject to pass by. So I decided to wait and see what might develop.
Slipping into the shadows at the end of the colonnade, I made myself as inconspicuous as possible while setting up the shot. Then, with my camera on tripod and focus, exposure, and composition set, I sat down on my camera case and quietly waited. And waited. And waited.
Then two young couples entered the courtyard and walked toward the balcony. One of the women was in a beautiful blue sari that perfectly complimented the warm tone of the arches; but her companions were in western dress, and it seemed unlikely that she would separate from the group. But I kept a hopeful eye on her just in case. They stayed at the balcony for quite awhile, then turned together to leave. I could see the shot wasn't going to happen and my hopes sank with their every step. Then, as if reading my mind, the three in western dress paused briefly to talk, and my saried princess walked through the archways alone. One shot, one-thirtieth of a second, frozen in time to enjoy forever.
Many years have passed since this picture was first published, and countless models have walked this path for other photographers wanting to reproduce it. But none, in my biased opinion, will ever match the un-staged beauty of that first candid moment in time. ©Ric Ergenbright