Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Twins, Maid Village, Rajasthan, India, November 20, 2009

They stand in front of the camera to my amazement, allow me to make at least twenty or so exposures with my medium format equipment and a few additional ones with the smaller digital camera. They allow me to go between color and black and white, without moving or being bothered by the sun.

Behind them is their home.

Last year, their grandfather invited me over for a cup of tea and a chat. We had a nice talk and while doing so photographed his granddaughter.

The very first person to greet us this year as we arrive to this village is his granddaughter. In an instant, she recognizes me and my eyes recognize her, a smile reaches her face. The effect of acknowledgment on a child is powerful. This is a most important part of the work, to show them that it means more than a picture, to show them that they are remembered regardless of their portrait.

This afternoon we make portraits of the school and, although she attends a different school, the good people of the foundation extend my invitation to her and she gladly joins us for her portrait as well. We then move on to another school in this village, all the time wishing to return for a more properly lit portrait of her.

Why the desire to photograph her only? Many times this question has come up, in different towns and in different countries. The answer eludes me and so the usual solution is to photograph everyone and to make sure she is one of them.

We get the chance to do such when the next school lacks students to photograph. Because the school has since closed due to lack of funding, the girls are in the hills collecting firewood. We make a few portraits and then decide to call it a day. It is at this time that I make a decision to return to the first location to make her portrait.

This time however, all the other girls have been photographed and I can choose to photograph her only. The joy on her face in knowing that we came back for her is beyond my capacity to color here. It is these memories that keep my work moving forward.

She goes inside to change, proud to do so in front of all of her friends. She is the star of the afternoon.

While we wait, her uncle asks me to make a few quick pictures of his twins. In the end, going back for her portrait yields the portrait above. In four weeks the negatives from this day will be in my hands and her portrait will be shared.