Sunday, June 12, 2016

Mother + Child, Banjara Community, Rajasthan, India, 2009

On the morning of this portrait, we arrived before the sun came up and walked toward this first set of homes. The men were out for the day already, and only the women and children were left behind. This was just fine by me, as the women quickly agreed to allow the photography to begin.

The sun was very soft but we managed to find a white wall to use as our backdrop anyway. We began with a few portraits of the boys, as always ready subjects to be photographed. Then the girls stepped up and we made a few images lasting perhaps twenty or so minutes. The surprise came when the women asked to be photographed, and did so with joy rather than shyness.

The Banjara Community has been a subject of fascination for me ever since my first days in India, when Humana People to People India invited me to document their Academies for Working Children which serve this very community. The academies are located usually in areas neglected by the government system, and tends to migrant communities and their children who are usually doing the most menial of jobs in order to support their families.

The foundation provides these children with at least three hours a day of education, striking a balance between what is possible and what is less so. The families allow their children to attend classes knowing that they are still available for work the rest of the day. To see these children, with fresh faces, taking their lessons from the teachers cannot be put into words. I will only say that most teachers on this side of the ocean would love to have such enthusiasm in their students, that same appreciation for the opportunity to learn.

Note: This image was made with a Hasselblad 555 ELD/180 mm combination, cropped for the vertical perspective.

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