Thursday, December 20, 2012

Widow, Mosque, Zakat Foundation of India, New Delhi, India, November 26, 2008

In the courtyard of a small mosque in Old Delhi this work was accomplished. The women and a few men, all widows, gathered to receive a bundle of dry goods to help sustain them for the next month. This work was made possible through the generosity of good people and the organization power of the Zakat Foundation of India.

The foundation arranged the day to coincide with my visit, and during the distribution of dry goods. As in the previous year we asked permission to use the local mosque's courtyard since the outside scene was beyond chaotic. To set up a tripod and make a photograph outside would be the equivalent of doing the same during the 'Running of the Bulls,' with only the slightest of exaggeration.

Thirty or so women and a few men gathered for their portrait. We used a light wall against which the women would stand, and set up the tripod perhaps three meters away. To my right was the basin in which the men would wash their feet and hands, and to my left was the entrance to the mosque. Behind the women and to her right was the entrance/exit to the courtyard.

We tried to pick the least cumbersome spot, but would inadvertently get in the way soon enough. About halfway through the session an older man walked over and told us that we needed to stop, that prayers were about to begin. He seemed to be the only one with the request, as I scanned the courtyard and received nothing but kind, generous faces in response.

He however kept at it, and what made it worse was that I had photographed him the year before and had his portrait in my bag, in a protective sleeve. He continued and continued until I finally had to break away from the work, go to my bag and pull out his portrait. I handed it to him with a sense of agitation and with a face that basically spoke of my disappointment. Here he was getting in the way of the women's portraits when he himself sat for his one year earlier.

A few of the men kneeling down saw this and made my day when they smiled with approval.

We then went forward with our work and finished photographing the rest of the women. What impressed me most was that none of the women walked away from the scene. They stood by me and the good people of the foundation, and demanded with their presence to continue with the work.

Such is the woman above, and for this detail alone she has my deepest respect.

A link to the foundation and to more work from this collaboration can be found through my website below.
Halim Ina Photography

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