A few weeks ago I was asked to document Project Why, an NGO in New Delhi that provides after school care to underprivileged children. Most children come from poor families, live in slums and go to schools where they are beaten and quality of education is very low.
Project Why looks after over a thousand children in different centres, spread over the city. Some centres also offer vocational courses to women and daycare to mentally disabled people.
Whenever I photograph children who live under completely different circumstances than my own kids, I am struck by the similarities they have. All are curious, want to learn, talk and be loved. All have dreams and talents, different personalities and a need for a safe environment in which they can be themselves and thrive. Project Why reaches out in a caring way and is able to make a substantial difference in these people’s lives.
If you would like to support Project Why, check their website. I can assure you it is money well spent!
A few weeks ago I was asked to photograph a winter clothing line for a company named Chandamama Kids. It had been quite some time since I did similar work and I was very excited to do it. We started out by looking at examples of kids fashion photography that the client really liked, talked about the kind of atmosphere we wanted to get across and where to photograph. The idea was to get a natural, happy and outdoor feel and bring across the coziness and comfort that nice winter clothes bring.
It was fun to work on a concept from scratch and deliver it in a brochure. Chandamama has used the images at a fashion fair in Paris and the response has been positive up till now. I realize that I enjoy doing these kinds of projects, especially the conceptualizing and working towards a certain style or atmosphere. Working for a client asks pushes me to perfectionism that I sometimes miss when doing my own work. Now that I have done this project, I do realize that I have the capacity to set up a project, conceptualize and deliver results I’m happy with. And it was a good excuse to get myself a better camera and lens 😉
Last December, a friend of mine organised a Christmas party for children of an organisation that helps them with education, after school activities and vocational skills. All these kids come poor families in Delhi, live in slums and don’t have access to proper sanitation, healthcare and quality education. My friend asked me if I could photograph them and give them all a print. I set up a space in her garden to photograph the children. They were really eager and happy to be photographed. Here are some of the photos that I took:
As I was editing the photographs I wondered about how I would perceive these beautiful people if I had taken their photos in their homes or streets they live in. Would I have felt pity for them? Would I have photographed them differently, still asked them to smile? Would I still categorise them as underprivileged, or just teenagers? What is it that I want to convey, besides just trying to make an image that the kids will like to look at and feel proud of?
I still have to go to the organisation and hand over the images. Maybe I’ll ask them to write something about it and it to my own files, have to think about that!
While working on my course I have been really busy putting a photobook together with a group of 21 foreigners living in New Delhi. The idea is to photograph New Delhi, put the images in a book, sell the book and give the proceeds to charity. It was very interesting to see how everybody has a different way of looking at the city. I helped with the editing of the images and now the book is about to be printed! Here’s a PDF of the book.