Saturday, January 18, 2014

Man + Refugee, Uttar Pradesh, India, November 30, 2013

When we finished the girls' portraits, we moved onto a different area to photograph the boys. The tall grass behind one tent seemed to be the spot and so we started there. The boys came in groups and took positions behind various clumps of tall grass. We did this for maybe thirty minutes and then were asked to photograph some adults.

Some women stepped up for their pictures, then a few men wanted to do the same. Some were the husbands of the women just photographed, and some were just men on their own. One memorable exception was a young man carried in a most gentle manner by a friend from the camp. The moment touched me deeply and caught me off guard. It took me a minute to recompose myself before making their portrait, and they forgave me this lapse in composure.

The man being carried had the most peaceful expression, a gaze of understanding quite rare in my work. This was the look of love as normally seen from the girls, but displayed very effectively in this beautiful man. He thanked me for his portrait with a gesture, and the two men disappeared into the camp shortly after.

I expected to be moved deeply by the plight of the children, and this was of course the case when looking at each girl sitting there patiently waiting for her portrait. Here they were with next to nothing, yet willing to give of themselves completely. This was exactly the feeling I received from this man, and was totally thrown off guard because he was an adult.

Later on as we walked through the camp making more documentary images, I walked between two tents and spotted him sitting there smiling at me. This was the smile he presented with earlier, and I asked for his portrait once again. He of course obliged and this was the portrait made. This time I was ready for him, and he knew it. This is the look of love, this represents hope.

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

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