Rohit Rathour, SDM Chamba and DK Bhaskar, President, IPP looking at photo exhibition
Ten day Photography workshop being organised jointly by IPP-USA, Samhita and Centre for Sustainable concluded today at Paryavaran Chetna Kendra Sahoo.
More than 40 brilliantly colored photographs of daily life in Parotha, Paliur, Saaho and Jathera went on display in Saaho during the closing ceremony of a student photography workshop. Rohit Rathour, SDM Chamba was the chief guest on the occassion and he gave away certificates to the participants.
Rohit Rathour, SDM Chamba and DK Bhaskar giving away the certificates
Approximately 40 students age 11-15 participated in the 10-day photography workshop The goal of the project was not only to teach skills of photography to young people who had never handled cameras before, but also to help them see the beauty and tradition of their villages with fresh eyes. The students also presented a rich cultural program to conclude the workshop.
Students presenting folk theatre on the conlcluding day
Beena Devi, a student participant from the village of Soloh, said the photography workshop helped her gain a new awareness of her everyday activities.
Rishika Kapoor said that because of the variety of topics they were given to photograph it gave them an opportunity to think about aspects of their lives they had never fully considered before.
Participants presenting folk dance
Students were assigned to document home and family life, livelihoods, market and bazaar activity, health and hygiene, environment, religion and ritual, and women in society.
Some of the students also covered Minjar Fair and the procession through the community of Chamba and down to the river.
Bhutto Khan presenting Gujjari dance
Students were allowed to use cameras from Nikon for 10 days under the direction of internationally renowned photographer DK Bhaskar, president of IPP USA. Bhaskar is a native of Mysore who now lives in Kansas City in the USA. Also assisting with the workshop were Jitender Verma, Director (Projects) Center for Sustainable Development and Geetanjali Tiwari, India Coordinator, Center for Global and International Studies at the University of Kansas.
“The world is changing quickly around us. We sometimes don’t even notice it,” said Bhaskar. “But when the children take pictures of it we see it fresh through their eyes. And it helps us all appreciate the world again.”
The workshops taught the students to turn the cameras on and off, compose their pictures, and point and shoot the cameras. They were also taught how to take care of their cameras. They quickly learned on their own how to zoom in and out, review and delete photographs, and change other settings – even though all the internal camera instructions were in English, a language few of the students understood. Some of the participants even composed amazing close-up photographs of flowers using the camera’s macro setting.
Their amazing photographs included portraits of Guddis and Gujjars in the mountains around their villages, as well as of women cooking on fires in their home and craftspeople sewing and working work. One particularly charming image shows a baby on the roof of a house high above the clouds in the valley below.
“I think it brought a lot of community attention to the kids,“ said Tiwari. “I think that’s a reflection of the fresh attention the children and their cameras brought to life in the village.”
Chief Guest on the occasion Sub-Divisional Magistrate, Chamba Rohit Rathour said IPP had made a good start and that he hoped to help and follow up with some of the hard working and brilliant students in the project. He further added, some of the pictures would be used in the department brochures to showcase the diversity of the region.
Tom Grant of the University of Idaho, on his first visit to India, shot a video documentary of the project. He said the photographs of the children will be eye-opening to Americans. “Few people realize that children like Bhutto Khan and Guddo Devi walk two hours up and down the mountain every day to get to school,” Grant said. “And when they see those children’s astounding photographs, they’ll get a new appreciation for the intelligence and dedication of children in India.”
Jitender Verma, Director , Centre for Sustainable Development, said ,”Objective of conducting this workshop is not only to document transition happening in our society but also to bring about a change in the perception of children towards their culture, traditions and environment.”