Saturday, January 25, 2014

Refugee + Shawl, Camp, Uttar Pradesh, India, December 1, 2013

It's hard to believe that such beauty can exist in the most difficult of circumstances and harder to believe that such beauty can present itself with this level of joy. This young girl has endured what most of us will hopefully never have to witness, violently forced to leave her home and live in what may seem to a child as another planet.

Being invited to visit the camps by Asrar Ahmad was an honor, and being allowed to photograph their girls even more so. Incredibly the entire community brought them forth for this stranger to document, and did so with a cooperation rare in any region of the world. As everyone told me, my camera was the first one to document their story in detail. Government officials have been non-existent and only private citizens have stepped up to help.

Many, like our hosts in Uttar Pradesh, have permanently signed over land for these people to attempt new lives. One family was invited to put their grocery stand in the patio of my host's home, selling vegetables to people in the village in order to help turn their fortune around. 

The young girl in this image was one of perhaps sixty girls waiting silently to have her portrait made while a few good men went about organizing the proceedings. They sat in a semi-circle less than five meters from me, and when a girl was finished with her portrait all would look our way hoping to be called for their chance. Choosing the next girl was extremely difficult, but made easier by the logistics of the sun. As explained to the girls by Asrar, we went about selecting the girls according to their facial features… those with less pronounced features were chosen first, allowing those with more pronounced features to be photographed without shadows under their eyebrows.

This young girl came up with this piece over her head and was about to remove it when she saw me react. She realized that I loved it and left it on for her portrait. All of the other girls went about giggling, and the mood was set for her to shine.

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Note: This image was made with a hand-held Sony RX100M2, and edited for size and contrast only.