Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Banjara Girl & Pitcher, Alwar District, Rajasthan, India, November 10, 2009

She sits down low, next to an open fire pit.

At first, she is photographed in the clothes she is wearing. As we make more photographs, she and the others change into their traditional blouses and dresses. All the girls at this home photograph easily, with her leading the way. Once one shows the others how, the photography flows.

She is a natural.

After a bit, the man of the house signals us to stop, a common practice with this community. Just as the excitement builds, or perhaps because of such, our work comes to an end. Time and time again, it seems to me that when girls perceive an opportunity, men decide to remove it from their view.

This perhaps is the single most frustrating part of my work since it deals almost exclusively with girls and women. The opposition of men and boys is unrelenting, in every single street, neighborhood or town. They always seem to be there, always pretend to be concerned, always do so without gaining an informed perspective, always.

Admittedly, the last sentence above is made without having a complete, informed perspective myself. I am a stranger to them, a man with expensive equipment, walking around with guides, making pictures of their children, more specifically their girls. For me to truly understand, much would need to change in my life, much would have needed to change before my birth.

I make these statements based on certain limitations, certain preconditions.

Can it be otherwise?

Perhaps in the future, my perceptions will change and a fuller understanding of this friction will unveil itself. Until then, my patience will be tested every single time a man comes into a scene and voices his 'concern' regarding the work, even when that man is from another town and is a stranger himself to the girls in front of me.