I'm alone and without a translator in the village. The team has gone back to the town to have lunch and the driver will return in a couple of hours. I ask to be left alone in the village since it has been the scene of three previous years of photography. I figure that the population will be receptive without the supervision of the team.
I learn on this day that the work is much more complex without the team from Humana People to People, I learn the value of having someone along with experience in dealing with the village. As in my work from the Middle East, the influence of the few deters the many from presenting themselves.
We are early and need to wait for the sun to set a little more before making images. The wait is almost unbearable because a few young men and boys have gathered around me. They are as silly as their counterparts in the Middle East, making jokes and always putting their hands where they are less than welcome, such as on the equipment.
I can see that the women and girls nearby feel as uncomfortable as I do, but the source of their discomfort is my reaction rather than the actions of the boys. They are used to the silliness of the boys, they are used to the insults. It is the look on my face that produces the looks on their faces. Rather than seeing the usual from me while making beautiful images of them, they see my reaction to action after action from the boys.
It's all pretty harmless actually, but like a faucet that continues to leak, it gets a bit much after a while.
My previous experiences tell me that including them in the work will help diffuse the silliness, at least help minimize it. So I take the small camera out and start making some pictures. Now the boys are on the defensive, they are the centers of attention. The small crowd pokes fun at them when they pose, when they put on their expressions for the camera. We do this for a bit until they lose interest in me and move on.
The younger boys are gems however, and produce images as genuine as the girls. The young boy above was as quiet as the girls while waiting. He shows me that such behavior is learned and that when young he is as interested in being photographed as his sisters.
After this portrait all of us walk into the open field behind the house and make beautiful images of the girls. One boy gets a chair for the girls to stand upon, and a few other boys help keep everything calm for me. Rather than hinder they decide to help. Every few minutes a situation flares up that needs to be soothed, but all in all we are allowed to make wonderful portraits of the girls.
The school in this village is one of the five that we are attempting to reopen at this time. Should you feel an affinity with this portrait or to the thought of providing access to education, you may feel free to contact me with your thoughts.
Halim Ina Photography