Sunday, April 30, 2017

Best Friends, Village near Kairana, Uttar Pradesh, India, 2017

Their portrait was made less than four weeks ago, and the next day we visited their madrasa once again to make more. For those of us involved in the new school, we present their tender portrait. We will finalize plans for the school with our hosts over the next few months, and put into motion what all of you and the community have supported for so long.

During our last visit the girls showed us yet another side of their personalities, one which was even more creative than anticipated. The 'spontaneous' sessions have become the highlights of our photography in these villages, as the girls line up with their best friends for photographs. They hold hands, they hug, they display traditional poses while also coming up with their own. It is a beautiful scene to witness, and I am honored to be provided the opportunity to do so.

To all of you, here is to the future!


Note: This image was made with a Sony RX100M3.

Saturday, April 29, 2017

Young Woman + Sewing Class, Rajasthan, India, 2017

For those of us involved in the two schools of Rajasthan, we present this portrait of a young sewing student. In addition to refined classes for this villages' students, Nirvanavan Foundation is running sewing classes for the older women. A dozen or so women gather two hours a day and practice the art of making clothing. 

All bring their own fabric and make various pieces for themselves and their families. They begin by producing very small samples, and then work their way up to the full scale garments. The sewing teacher was herself a student in the foundation's school, and now heads the sewing class in her home adjacent to that very school.

We hope one day very soon to connect this village with a private school, producing the uniforms necessary for its students. It is a win-win situation for all involved, and surely the students on both sides of the equation would support such an idea. For those involved in schools, or perhaps even a business in need of uniforms and such, please to reach out to me and let's see if we can make this happen for this village!


Note: This image was made with a Sony RX100M3.

Friday, April 28, 2017

Students + Madrasa, Shamli District, Uttar Pradesh, India, 2017

For those of us involved in this new collaboration we present their portrait. These two students attend our host's madrasa in a small village within the Shamli District of Uttar Pradesh, India. Both are new to the camera since last year, yet express with such confidence and grace.
This room has become our favorite studio in India, and countless photographs of the madrasa's students have been made here. The children are so beautiful, both in their features and how they present to the lens. We have known this village since 2013, and perhaps this has leant an air of familiarity to our visits. The children respond with a balance of the unknown and known, providing portraits with raw emotion.

They have never been photographed before, and certainly never together with such an informal setting. It is such a rare event in my experience to have such access, and to have such freedom in photographing girls from this community. This fact is not lost on me, as each portrait is made.
Note: This image was made with a Sony RX100M3.

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Young Girl, Village near Alwar, Rajasthan, India, 2017

Just a few weeks ago we were in Alwar, seems so distant to our time now in the States. While the two parts of the world are quite different, this portrait reminds me that the people are much more similar. Even though the cultures are different, even though the landscape has changed, a smile comes to a child's face just as beautifully.

This young girl lives in a village near Advaita Garden, just outside of Alwar. We were photographing some of the students from the school guided by Nirvana when she noticed us and walked by to see. My eyes of course noticed her immediately and invited her for a portrait. She accepted with a smile and stepped in front of the camera, with the field behind her. Her shawl was a magnificent color, and she was an immediate star in front of the lens.

The next two times we visited her village, she smiled even more so when I called her name... surprised that it would be remembered. How could one forget the name of such a child!?


Note: This image was made with a Sony RX100M3.

Monday, April 24, 2017

Young Woman + Landscape, Langha Community, Rajasthan, India, 2017

This past Spring my time in India had taken a new path... landscape photography mixed with environmental portraits of various communities. We headed into western portion of Rajasthan, right on the border with Pakistan. One of the circles we had been blessed to document this week was the Langha Community, famous for their customs and their musical talents.

As a matter of fact, our host showed me four expired passports, all filled on almost every page with visas and entries to various countries around the world. They immediately took us in yesterday and allowed us to stay the night, performing for us both yesterday and today. We sat down with them and exchanged stories, and our hopes as well.

This is a Muslim community which also happens to play music, sing and dance. The boys and men are the ones to do such, while the girls attend school up to fifth class and no more. This is the story of one of the villages within the Langha Community, as other villages may certainly vary regarding these details. We will present this village and our thoughts to this FB circle in the near future, as we believe a small investment will yield incredible results for this community.

This is the daughter of our host, as she allowed us to make her portrait this morning against the backdrop of the Rajasthani desert. The environment in which they live is both stunning and quite harsh. On a daily basis winds blow over the mounds of sand behind her, bringing endless amounts of sand into her home and her lungs. It is an extremely difficult life, almost unimaginable for so many of us.

We hope that perhaps a sewing class, with a dozen machines, will allow the girls and young women to attain a skill set which can then be used to make clothing both for the local and for the global market... details to be shared soon!


Note: This image was made with a Sony RX100M3.

Friday, April 21, 2017

Dance Star @ Home, Rajasthan, India, 2017

Previous to this image we witnessed her dancing capabilities at the school as the 'music machine' was delivered to her classroom. She danced and danced and danced as the music continued, her lips moving to the words of the songs. It was quite the experience, and we now have yet another project to document upon our return to her village next year.

For those of us contributing to her school we present her portrait. She attends one of the two schools funded by a dozen wonderful benefactors on FB, and my hope is that we can do much more in her region of Rajasthan.

This portrait was made in her home, along with the portraits of her sisters and friends. We wanted to make fun images for them to have, to thank them for granting me my film images during my last visit. She has truly grown up and has become an incredible presence in front of the camera... truly a force to behold.


Note: This image was made with a Sony RX100M3.

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Young Woman + Home, Rajasthan, India, 2017

This post was written originally on International Women's Day, 2017.

In honor of the women and girls who have blessed me with their portraits, and of course my Mother, I share her portrait on this International Women's Day. We were in her presence yesterday and just this afternoon, and were once again fortunate enough to make her portrait. She has been photographed by me for the past ten years, and the previous portrait shared on my page happens to be her brother.

She was a student in the initial Humana India school, and has continued with her studies thanks to the support of her family. Her father believes in his daughters, and sends all of them to school. She is a brave spirit, and takes care of her younger siblings in spite of the loss of her mother at a young age.

On the day of this portrait, the girls dressed up in their favorite clothes and ran back and forth with great excitement as the shutter clicked. They put on the most beautiful clothing, and of course made up their faces. To be in a house filled with girl spirits, and to be allowed to document their creativity, is a feeling unlike any other... and is a perfect sentiment to share on the most auspicious of days!


Note: This image was made with a Sony RX100M3.

Sunday, April 16, 2017

Two Students + Field, Rajasthan, India, 2017

The following was written in the field on March 7, 2017:

A few hours ago we left these two girls' village, after leaving perhaps 2,000 photographs for the students in the school. They will have their hands full in the morning going through the images, and we will be there to see their reactions. We will also be making more photographs, and watching their school in action as well!

For this image we walked over to a field a hundred or so meters from the school, where we had unfiltered access to sunshine and a bit of privacy. The children had gone home for the afternoon and came back for the photography. Most live within shouting distance of this field, and came back gladly to take part in the now familiar scene.

After the formal portraits were made, we made color photographs with the girls in various combinations... two or three at a time, best friends and sisters together. The colors popped out since all came after school, having changed at home. For those of us supporting these schools, more will be shared tomorrow!


Note: This image was made with a Sony RX100M3.

Saturday, April 15, 2017

One Family + School, Rajasthan, India, 2017

The following was written on March 6, 2017:

In two hours we head to Virat Nagar from Alwar to hand out the photographs from two weeks ago, including the ones from this series. For those of us involved in the two schools in Rajasthan, we present this portrait of one family... all of whose children attend one of the two schools.

On this morning we had finished with photography at the school and were heading out of the village when we were greeted as always by these children, living on the outskirts of the village. We would normally wave as we drove by, and at times stop to say hello... but never stopped for longer than that. It seemed about time that we did, so we did!

We asked if the children wanted some photographs inside the house, and all agreed. The person accompanying me at the time went ahead and began asking the children to stand in front of the camera, as they were when we arrived, for he like all those before him took my offer at its face value. Instead of fully engaging the children and inquiring about their concepts, it was moving forward without much creativity.

Fortunately he is a good man, and listened to my request to allow the children the time to do as they wished for the photography. The results were truly enchanting as the girls went back and forth and put their best clothes on over the next forty or so minutes. He realized at that point the value of including the children in the process, and how in doing so we truly respected their minds and hearts.

The girls, and boy, took it all in and loved the moment... hurrying back and forth thinking that we were also in a hurry. Once they realized that we were there for them, the shyness disappeared and they took fully advantage thankfully of our time in their home. It was an honor for me to have so much of their trust, and we look forward to seeing them in a few hours.


Note: This image was made with a Sony RX100M3.

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Best Friends, Shamli District, Uttar Pradesh, India, 2017

For those coming together on behalf of these young girls' school, their portrait is being shared. This was made during our initial visit last week, as Nirvana and his team joined in on the conversation regarding the new curriculum in these young students' school. Their combined portrait was made after the formal portraits on film, providing the girls with a chance to be more spontaneous with their expressions.

...spontaneous they were!

The variety of expressions made me review my approach, and from this point forward such portraits will also be recorded with film. It is an exciting time, mainly for the school of course... but also from my standpoint photographically. My hope is that these portraits convey a sense of the excitement in the air for those of us interested in this work.

These portraits were also made possible with the sincere cooperation of the community and our hosts. The name of our headmaster from the school is missing out of respect for his desire for privacy, but he needs to be mentioned for without him none of this would even be possible.

Note: This image was made with a Sony RX100M3.