Sunday, May 13, 2018

A Moment Between Friends, Uttar Pradesh, India, 2018

The classroom had just been painted the previous day, and the smell of paint still permeated the warm, morning air. The colors looked absolutely glorious and set the mood for our morning session. Just outside of the classroom sat perhaps forty students learning the Koran, and their voices carried into this beautiful space.

Mukesh and I split the duties, a digital camera in his hands and the film camera in mine. We were fortunate to have two identical rooms, connected by an open doorway. All the girls gathered with Mukesh to make the more spontaneous images, while one girl at a time would come into my room to produce the portraits on film.

This proved to be an incredible combination, for the girls loved to be in front of the digital camera. They loved to be creative, to make photographs with their friends, to express themselves in a different way.

Once my film work ended, it was also time for me to make digital images. It was at that moment when these two young girls walked in front of the camera. Suddenly they broke out into a series of smiles, laughter, movements and pure joy. At least two dozen exposures were made and all the while they allowed me to do so.

This was a rare moment in a most conservative setting. While I have always thought the girls in this community act like girls the world over... perhaps behind the walls of their homes, I have rarely seen such abandon out in the open. These girls knew so, and allowed me to witness their unfiltered joy!

A week or so later it was time to hand these photographs to the girls. The young girl to the right was in the school to receive the photographs, and I asked her to sit next to me while Mukesh was handing photographs to the other students.

Knowing that she would be shy to receive the photographs out in the open, I handed them to her quietly. However, I handed them to her one at a time while smiling ever so slightly. Her reaction was incredible. She did almost shy away, but she remained in place, smiled and took one photograph at a time from my hands while truly looking at each image. She made such an impression on me, one that will remain in my memory for life I do hope.

These are the new colors of the new school, this is the joy in the students as Nirvanavan Foundation proceeds to establish the school thanks to the generous circle of people here on FB. I share this and hope we can continue our support for next year!

Note: This image was made with a Sony RX100M3.

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