Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Humana People to People, Banganga, India, 2007

This is my last day of 2006 in Rajasthan and India for that matter. It is seven in the morning and the village is gathered early for this photographic session. Lenses have been changed and the equipment is ready. Two hours are spent making portraits, we are treated to the customary tea and head for the airport five hours away in New Delhi, about eight hours before flight time.

The people of this small village wear smiles on their faces, they are responding to the photography and to the circumstances behind today's events, yesterday's session. Up until today, all the villages are visited once and the project moves to the next location. What makes this different is what happens the day before.

Going back one day, we arrive at the end of the day for the last village, Banganga, Rajasthan. The girls are waiting and we make their portraits during the last two hours of a beautiful afternoon. Halfway through the session, I notice that the lens makes a strange noise. Looking through the front end of the lens, it is obvious to me that the shutter is broken. My mind goes back and forth and wonders if the lens has been broken since day one in India, three weeks before. With a pit in my stomach, the rest of the images are made using the smaller camera. After we finish, I instruct the Humana team that we will be coming back in the morning.

My translator tells me that he must leave tonight and does so, leaving me with our good driver Mr. Singh. We share our plan with the village, telling them that it is more important to me to make their portraits than to get back to New Delhi the night before my flight. This short conversation proves to cement our bond and form a relationship that to this day is without parallel in India for me.

The very next day, their portraits are made, we drive back to my room in New Delhi, throw everything into the luggage and drive to the airport, two hours before my flight. Upon arriving to the States, three rolls of film are taken to the photofinishing place, one from the very first day, one from the middle of the trip and one from the last day. They are all processed in one hour and all prove that the rest of the negatives will be fine. This is perhaps the best feeling experienced in my photographic life.

The portrait above is from that last day in Rajasthan, India in December, 2006.

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