When we arrived in Kairana, India last month we were told that most of the refugee camps had been disbursed and that the refugees had returned to their homes. The people thought that perhaps this would disappoint me because they were supposed to be the subjects of my photography. This was far from the truth of course, for having less to photograph in this regard would only make me happier.
So we visited the school of our host, an Islamic school he had opened in his own village. The building was glorious, with a spacious courtyard and incredible fields as far as the eye could see all the way around. When we stepped inside this was the first face that greeted me, and immediately made me realize that we would be staying an extra day or so.
She might have been as shocked as I was, but hid her reaction better than I did. She however knew immediately that I was deeply impressed with her, and gave off this most subtle smile in return. The school had about 60 girls in attendance on that day, and perhaps 40 or so boys. .
The men were wonderful and helped us with the photography. We made portraits of the boys in a small room with a window as our source of light, then switched to the walkway outside to photograph the girls with the help of a reflector. They were magnificent, including the one pictured in this image. There was something about her, how she held her head up high even though we were strangers who had appeared suddenly and asked for her portrait.
The features of her face are etched in my mind, and deny any categorization whatsoever. She is both timeless and of this period, perfect in every manner.
After the morning photography, we asked their instructor about two voices which we might record regarding the reading of the Koran… and he pointed to her and her friend as the two most beautiful voices to record. Later that afternoon we did so, and were treated to the most glorious reading of the Koran in my limited experience. This is what this work is about, and such has shown me that in every corner of this world immense beauty and strength exist.
Note: This image was made with a Sony RX100M2, mounted and triggered adjacent to a Hasselblad V System.