Tuesday, 30 August 2011

Day one: Introductions

We asked the boys who had used a camera before....no one raised their hand. 

When I arrived in Rajasthan a few days before the photography workshops are due to begin I was told by the staff who run the projects here in India that they were being asked ‘when do we start photography?’ by the boys every day they had visited the orphanage in the last few weeks. Each time they would reply ‘Monday’ but still the next day they were asking ‘when we start learning photography?’. It is so exciting to know the boys are so keen.

The volunteers all arrived safely to our apartment over the weekend so soon it was time to start doing the final preparations for the project. Unfortunately not everything went to plan...cameras which worked fine back in London had decided to stop working once they reached India. Luckily ‘everything is possible in India’ and we managed to collect together enough cameras for all of the 21 boys.

With the monsoon rains holding off for the time being (it is very uncommon for it to still be raining here at this time of year, yet we are having torrential downpours nearly every day!) we set off to the orphanage eager to start ‘clicking’ some photos. The orphanage, which is run by the government, is home to nearly 100 boys aged 4 -18. In this project we will be working with the elder boys, aged 15 -18.

We started by introducing ourselves to the group and then Gurav, one of the Indian staff members, explained about the project to the boys; what they can expect and what will happen with the images which they create. 

With the volunteers partnered with three boys each they set of to start playing with their cameras and get to grips with the settings, which they all did with surprising ease! To get the boys thinking about composition we gave each of them a frame which they could hold up and use as a viewfinder.

Everything was going really well with the boys’ confidence increasing, and then volunteers started coming to me and saying their batteries were running out. The batteries we had bought from England turned out to not be very good and only last a few minutes. The boys handled this amazingly, sharing the remaining functioning cameras between their group.

After a while practising with their cameras (while the younger boys were practising their posing!) it was time to start reviewing. All the volunteers were impressed with the quality of the photos they took, especially considering this is the first time they have ever used a camera, and found it hard to whittle images down to their favourites. Each student chose two photographs which they will later consider for inclusion in our exhibition.

What was planned to be an hour session easily turned into three hours, all the students and volunteers seemed to have an amazing time and can’t wait for the next session. This time we’ll make sure we have good batteries!

A few of the boys favourite pictures from the day:

Photo by Amit

Photo by Kanti

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