Earlier this year we had the honor of being accepted once again by the Muslim community living near this beautiful city. Without more than a day's notice while near the city we called our contacts from the previous year, and they invited us immediately to their village.
The next few days were spent photographing the schools in these villages. At first communication was easy thanks to my driver from Delhi. However when the time came for him to head back, it became my first time in India when I was on my own, without translator.
While this was somewhat intimidating, at such a distance from the capital and on my own in an environment at times hostile to the thought of photography, there was a calm feeling as well. My hosts were also perhaps a bit nervous, for they were worried about me.
However when it came time to head out this morning for the photography, it was actually quite simple. We used sign language to set the time and decided the evening before which school to visit. We decided to visit the Islamic school in the village first, then the government school.
The Islamic school was very close to the house, a five minute walk. When we arrived the men were preparing to pray, while students were entering the mosque. All of them looked at me in a surprised way, as I was an unknown man entering a mosque with a camera. What made this all possible was my host family, for they were both the religious leaders in the area and also have their son as the political leader of the region.
Nobody asked questions as we arranged to photograph the girls first, and then the boys. We decided to walk outside of the grounds of the mosque in order to make it easier on everyone. All of the students followed us after a few minutes, giving us a bit of time to get ready.
We were going to begin with the girls when I noticed this young boy. His eyes caught my attention immediately, and I decided to photograph him first before the sunlight became too bright for him. We used Ilford Delta 400 film for this portrait, so as to take advantage of the low level of light.
An entire roll of film was exposed, and this was the last one on the roll. He was so beautiful, so calm. Instead of the usual, white head covering… he had a colored piece which was perfect. His shirt was so elegant, making this portrait one of my favorite from my time in India this year.