Sunday, April 4, 2010

In the Midst of Prostitution, Rajasthan, India, November 6, 2009

In the midst of Prostitution, this portrait is made. Behind her is a building with a dirty, white wall. The negative is exposed to take advantage of such, erasing any remnant of her surroundings and allowing her to shine without limitations. This is her second portrait today; she has changed into a darker shirt, combed her hair and returned with a wide grin. 

There are those that question my requests many times. 

Why do you ask them to change their blouse? Why do you insist on darker colors? What if they have nothing other than what they are wearing? What if they like what they are wearing? 

 My answer to them is her smile. Asking her to be involved in her portrait respects her; including her in a wardrobe decision allows her to make that decision rather than be 'found' on the street. Proposing darker colors allows her features to dominate the portrait rather than be dominated by visually strong elements. Most of the children in my work will never see a photographic studio, will never have their portrait made. This is a chance to play, an opportunity to experiment with colors, fabrics and expressions of personal preferences. When asked, many girls waiting in line will then exchange fabrics, pieces of clothing. Giggling dominates along with smiles. 

My experience in the field has taught me that children take wonderfully to such inclusion, are happy to know that the photographer wants to make a nice portrait for them, is interested in making neat their blouse and brushing nicely their hair away from their face. Over and over again, when viewing footage of the sessions, the subjects can be seen giggling as my clumsy hands brush their hair behind their ears or correct the position of their necklaces. The portrait above is her second in two years. Nirvanavan Foundation has proposed a school in her village and has moved forward with the plan. Let's hope that her future is different from her community's past.

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