Friday, November 22, 2013

Girl + Student, Collection + Sorting of Garbage, Humana People to People India, Gurgaon, India, November 22, 2013

Her life is spent collecting garbage from the surrounding area, then sorting it in order to support her family. The entire community lives in tents on the edge of town, on land that is someone else's without water nor electricity. Under the shadow of the skyscrapers housing the world's elite corporations she exists, yet her spirit remains true.

Through a collaboration between Humana People to People India and Nokia she attends classes for a few hours per day, and has gained skills to perhaps one day allow her a chance at changing her future as well as that of her family.

We visited her camp today and made portraits for her and her friends. The most incredible thing is that we just arrived, set up the tripod and began calling girls to the front of the lens for their portraits… and they responded with kindness and open hearts. The children, it is always the children, with this reaction rather than anything else… and they are the reason my work exists.
Halim Ina Photography

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Girl + Student, Nirvanavan Foundation, Village near Alwar, Rajasthan, November 16, 2013

She walks miles to this classroom every day along with children from the surrounding villages. Lines of children walk with determination and need very little external motivation. They sit most attentively for their lessons, and the level of respect shown to their teachers is palpable even from a distance.

Two days were spent photographing the students at Advaita Garden, the main school of Nirvanavan Foundation. Over 250 students from five villages attend this exquisite school and benefit from a most dedicated group of people. On any day one can find artists from around the world visiting the premises and sharing their vision with the students for example. 

The students drawings hang all around her in this classroom alone, while livestock is kept on the premise to supply the children with milk and the guests with Indian style tea. A wonderful cook attends to the kitchen and others take on tasks such as planting trees, carrying for the livestock and the transportation of the many guests visiting the site.

I have visited this space since 2007 and have been deeply impressed with the progress made each year. I look forward to this year's work with them, and to the images resulting from our collaboration. The hope is that the images will raise awareness and funding for three hostels planned for 2014.
Halim Ina Photography

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Former Student, Humana People to People, Chota, Rajasthan, India, November, 2013

Here she is in color this time, comfortable enough to share her smile with us. Our visit to her village was for her and two of her friends, and word was delivered to all three that we were waiting for them in the village. 

While waiting for her I decided to make some detailed images of the house. During one exposure I heard some commotion and turned to see her running into the inner courtyard, clearly short of breath from the long sprint from the field in which she was digging ditches for the afternoon.

She looked radiant and overjoyed that we had returned just for her. The images were easy to make and the smile below is just one example of such.
Halim Ina Photography

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Sisters + Students, Humana People to People, Rajasthan, India, November 12, 2013

The evening before was spent with these sisters and their friends from the village. This photograph was made in the courtyard of their previous school, with the invaluable help of their former teacher. The older sister has known me since 2006, and remembers the story she once told me years ago as we were about to leave for the day, right in front of this courtyard.

The story goes something like this: Before the school for girls in her village, she used to take very little care of herself, work twelve or more hours per day and have little motivation for anything more than the day to day. With the introduction of the school she began to take care of herself more so, wash her hair and take joy in the few hours of education provided to her with the permission of her parents. Now her sister attends school and is following in her footsteps.

I remember this story like it was yesterday, her expression of hope and her resilience… to this day it is evident.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Girl, Banjara Community, Rajasthan, India, November 11, 2013

Over and over again these girls impress me, how they are approached spontaneously and yet they are able to stand in front of dozens of people, mostly men, while providing expressions rarely seen in their own community.

This morning a little woman stepped in front of the lens in a small Community of Banjara. While the older girls found it nearly impossible to do so, she acted without fear. A roll of medium format film was changed yet her fierceness never waivered during the wait. Boys ran all around her, and men showed their disapproval at times, yet she stood her ground.

As the hour of photography passed the men became even more anxious, they wanted their own time… this even after just twenty or so minutes of photography. This almost amazes me as much as her fierceness in that the former never changes, men always want their time even though the photography is designed for the younger members of their community. The children obviously are enjoying themselves, yet the men find it in themselves to put this joy at risk by pushing their own agendas.

While standing for the girls has its own risks, to this day I try to maintain the session for the girls until all are photographed, then move onto the men albeit in a less enthusiastic manner internally. The fact that a smaller, faster camera is being used, added to the color of the images, seems to do the trick most of the time. This time I'm just happy that six girls were photographed before the rush of men overtook the session.

Tomorrow a wedding takes place and I may accept their invitation to attend. Hopefully I'll be able to make it, and see her under different circumstances.
Halim Ina Photography

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Elderly Man, Humana People to People India, Khala Kidhani, Rajasthan, India, November 6, 2013

We saw this man sitting together with a few other men having a traditional smoke and knew instantly he needed to be photographed. We visited his village at the end of the day to explore the possibilities photographically for the next morning, and were pleasantly surprised when they allowed the photography of their daughters. This morning we photographed all of the girls first, and then photographed this man at the end… an incredible presence!

The night before I was concerned that perhaps he might be missing the next day, but he happened to be the only man from the group the evening before to be present as we arrived. At first he declined the portrait and like so many times my interpreters were nudged a bit by me to ask kindly once again. He did accept graciously and gave much more of his time than asked.

There was a moment when one of the young boys laughed inappropriately, and the elderly man took offense and almost left his seat to head back to his spot. He then noticed my dismay at the young man's insensitivity and decided to give my camera one more chance. The sun was soft yet strong enough to allow another roll, and more intimate images were made regarding distance such as the image above.

It never ceases to amaze me how young boys, and at times young men, take it upon themselves to disrespect the courageous spirits standing in front of my lens. Whether this happens to be young girls in Cuba or older men in India, it's always the same: attention is being given to someone other than them.

I have been fortunate to have had wonderful subjects, people with a deep understanding of their own surroundings. They are the ones to rise above the remarks and concentrate on the lens in front of them, to use that lens as a tunnel through which to communicate with the viewers when that time comes. Each time this happens I am breathless, and deeply appreciative.
Halim Ina Photography

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Brother Netram, Virat Nagar, Rajasthan, Eve of Diwali, November 2, 2013

I have known this gentle man since my arrival in Rajasthan over six years ago. He lives in this small room and produces exquisite furniture made of fine rope twisted around wooden frames. He wakes up early in the morning and tends to his spiritual responsibilities, then goes about his duties in a most diligent manner.

He is both precise and devoted, and has been my friend since the day we met. Last night he read the lines on my hands, and gave me hope that the original schools will one day reopen as well as the schools now scheduled to open.

Here he sat on one of his benches, on the eve of Diwali. A few minutes after this image was made we took a walk into the market and had some sweet treats, and spent the night talking.

The next day he showed me a beautiful temple he had constructed for the Diwali celebration, while flowers hung from ceiling of the entrances to the hallway and to the room. I admire this man, and am proud of our brotherhood.
Halim Ina Photography

Saturday, November 2, 2013

Boy + Cap, Humana People to People India, Virat Nagar, Rajasthan, India, October 29, 2013

When we arrived in Virat Nagar, the good people of Humana People to People India made it possible for me to set out first thing in the morning. We walked through the city streets in search of that next face and found one in this little boy. We had stopped for a few women but were surrounded by boys and men, deciding to take advantage of the multitude of faces rather than the few women.

As with almost all situations in my experiences with rural India, boys take center stage once they see me and my camera. On this morning it was advantageous, they were quite charming and beautiful actually. This young boy was almost the last to be photographed, preferring to stay behind at least one older boy in the crowd the entire time.

The space was a small lot just off of the main road, and perhaps around 30 people had gathered to witness the proceedings. One advantage with photographing boys is that the crowd does little to affect the subject's demeanor, in contrast to when a young girl is photographed in front of the same, mostly male crowd. So this young boy was quite comfortable in front of the camera and also in front of a few dozen people.

Tomorrow I leave for Behror and then Alwar on single day visits to friends. Photography will be quite limited, but then again the camera will be ready in case someone with such a face decides to show up in front of my camera.
Halim Ina Photography