Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Student + Shawl, Humana People to People, Rajasthan, India, Fall of 2007

When I saw her face eight years ago, I knew this was the place for me. In the middle of a field next to her village we made this image, as she floated effortlessly above all that is earthly.

This image was made possible through my collaboration with Humana People to People India. The simplicity of it however masks the complexities in making such a portrait, the difficulty of her young life. She wakes up before sunrise to her never-ending tasks, and goes to sleep only after everyone else has already done so.

Before the foundation she lacked access to school. What sadness for anyone to imagine? what tragedy for anyone to realize?

Through the foundation, she attended classes for three hours a day, in between her chores. She learned the alphabet and the numbers along with other girls from her village, recited them out loud for all to hear.

In order for this portrait to have been made, she had to step in front of the lens with countless eyes on her. She had to overcome the lessons passed on from generation to generation in her world, the idea that the feminine was of less value than the masculine.

I remember having a conversation with a young man near her village one day. He was telling me how the men and women worked equally in the villages, and went on in great detail. As he was talking, I was looking at his mother preparing our meal tirelessly, his older sister washing the clothes with her bare hands and his younger sister coming back from a long walk carrying water almost a fourth of her weight on her head… all this while he sat on the bench across from me in his pressed clothes and neatly trimmed hair.

This is what the young girl has to endure day to day. Yet in this portrait all gloves are off, nobody will dictate such lessons to her. Less than ten meters away stand those with other plans for her, while she glances at the horizon past them at the possibilities. Whatever happens in her future, at this very moment and in this image she displays an enlightenment others only dream of achieving.


Note: This image was made with a Hasselblad 555 ELD/180mm combination onto Fuji Neopan Acros 100 ISO film.

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