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Punjab villager, India. From the series: 'Monsoon'
Punjab villager, India. From the series: 'Monsoon' 1960, Brake, Brian (1927–1988), Punjab. Gift of Mr Raymond Wai-Man Lau, 2001. Te Papa

‘Monsoon’ is the work that made Brake’s reputation. The idea originated when fellow members of the Magnum photo agency suggested he should commit to a substantial self-assigned project.

Photographing the seasonal monsoon rains of India had been tried before with unsatisfactory results, and Brake’s initial attempts were also unsuccessful. Then he realised that the best approach was not to try and photograph the monsoon weather directly, but to focus on its effects on the people of India.

Life magazine reproduced twenty of the approximately 110 images submitted by Brake. Other picture magazines followed quickly, using between eight and 34 shots.

In 1980, Brake said that, out of all of his work, ‘If “Monsoon” lasts, I’ll be happy.’

© Copyright Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa, Wellington, New Zealand.