Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Two Friends + Refugee Camp, Uttar Pradesh, India, December 1, 2013

From my last day in the refugee camps of Uttar Pradesh this portrait of two girls comes. We were near the end of the session and still had a dozen or so girls without documentation. We moved quickly to a small spot ten or so meters away from the main stage to continue, and the girls followed two by two.

The men were incredibly helpful and arranged the photography for the afternoon. Once they knew that we'd work in the camp that afternoon they called all of the children, an hour before the work could have begun… and all of the children came running immediately. The girls sat behind me to the right while the boys sat behind me to the left.

I was overwhelmed and almost frozen in thought. While I knew that the boys would go first, saving the softer light for the girls, the thought of when to begin went through my head over and over again. The idea is to allow the work to flow without pause, and so the beginning was quite important. We began with two hours of light left and photographed the boys in 45 minutes. They walked to the camera two by two, sometimes in groups of three or four. Everyone has fun with this, especially the men sitting around the fringes of the 'stage.'

Then came time for the girls and the medium format camera was removed from the camera. Without saying much everyone knew that this was different for me, especially the girls waiting for their turn. Looking at the four dozen or so girls sitting around, my eyes glanced at their features… picking the girls with less dominant features first and reserving the latter portion of the session for the girls with deeper features so as to minimize the shadows on their faces.

Girl after incredible girl walked up to the camera, all dressed differently and in their own style. Their expressions took my breath away, for they were responding to the circumstances in which they lived at the moment. In their eyes I witnessed sadness coupled with strength, desperation balanced with hope. They were meters away from the frail tents in which they lived, yet stood in defiance of all that brought them to this point in their lives.

Tomorrow I drive to Washington, DC to collect the negatives from India, and will relive this moment… hoping that the camera has done justice to these incredible children.

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Note: This image was made with a Sony RX100M2, in available light then cropped for size and edited for contrast only.