Friday, February 12, 2021

Shanu + Book Bag, Rajasthan, India, 2020

She is always so serious when in front of a camera, even when receiving a new book bag in front of her classmates. All of the sewing students attended and presented each student with a new uniform as well, hand-made by them. This is an incredible house, home to both the sewing instructor and the elementary school teacher... both sisters. I have visited this home since before this classroom was built, even before the second floor was made. The young woman next to me, now the teacher, used to be a student in the girls' school back then. One look at the smiles of the sewing students tells me that the sewing center needs to open soon, and open soon it will once the virus eases its grip on the world. 

Laura + Dry Lake Bed, Southern California, 2019

Last week Laura asked me to scan one of her color images, and I was glad that she did. We exposed one color roll towards the end of our session when almost all of the tones matched, with the exception of the sky which was the exact opposite in color. The location was magical and Laura sacrificed tremendously to make it happen. To have this image as proof of our time together on that dry lake is the gift of photography!

Young Student + Board, Humana People to People India, Rajasthan, India, 2006

This portrait dates back to my first trip to India, and my first experiences with Humana People to People India. My time in the villages with Humana opened my eyes to an entirely different world, and introduced me to the work of community development from the ground up. It was a privilege to be able to visit more than a dozen schools in the Virat Nagar region of Rajasthan, and to this day this place means the world to me. While the schools are now closed, the foundation and I have maintained contact to this day. In addition, I have visited many of these villages over the past few years and we have begun three sewing centers in three of these villages, with one elementary school as well. My goal is to revisit all of these villages once again and present a plan to revisit the work started more than 20 years ago. One look into her face tells me the incredible value of education, and convinces me of the need to do what we can to make such more possible for the girls of this region.

Note: this frame was just scanned this evening... seen for the very first time since her portrait was made in 2016!

Monday, February 8, 2021

Massai + Me, Kisumu, Kenya, 2007

While making sure all film rolls have been scanned, this frame ran across the screen. It dates back to 2007 and my time with the Masai of eastern Kenya. A dear friend Nga Nga made it all possible, and allowed me to meet an very kind community. I am glad that Nga Nga used my camera to make this image, and look forward to my return to their community one day in the future. After we finished our session in the countryside, this group of men decided to walk back to town rather than take a bus... a walk of around 10 kilometers in the hot sun. What inspirations! 

Massai + Sky, Kisumu, Kenya, 2007

Last month was spent scanning all of the color film from the past 20 years. For some reason, I scanned the monochrome only, and neglected the color film all these years. This young man belongs to the Masai Community and was photographed during my time in Eastern Kenya. Thanks to my brother Nga Nga this work was possible, and I will forever be in debt to this great man.

Young Student + Classroom in Construction, Shamli District, Uttar Pradesh, India, 2020

If at all in doubt, one look at her portrait and all falls into place. She attends a small, religious school in the state of Uttar Pradesh. For her portrait she was standing near a window in a newly constructed classroom. The confidence she shows is remarkable for her age, and for a young girl having her portrait made by someone so different from the men in her village.

Her headmaster is a good man and is planning to construct a new school for the girls of the region. He is moved by the fact that education for girls is less prized by the villagers, in comparison to the education for boys. His decision to pursue such a plan impressed me deeply, and I will work hard on my end to gather the funds necessary by reaching out to the Muslim Community on this side of the world... and every other source of course. 

One look into her eyes makes it clear that the work is both important and necessary. The fact that this work is needed in more villages than one can possibly count only makes it more urgent. Anyone moved by this is more than welcome to join.