By Sharmada Sivaram
After an enthralling opening ceremony of the inaugural Delhi Photo Festival, the second day saw a workshop, artist talks and exhibition openings.
At 4 PM, while the Casuarina Hall was bursting at the seams with all those listening to artist talks by Pushpamala N., Diwan Manna and Dayanita Singh – a small group of us attended the opening of students and children workshop exhibition curated by Vidura Jang Bahadur, Nitin Upadhye and Samar Jodha.
The students who were part of the workshop at the Habitat Learning Center were present and it was a treat to see their smiles and a sense of achievement. Standing with Nitin, they proudly pointed out each of their works. The objective was not just to help them learn how to take a photograph but use this form of documentation further and create it into an asset.
Raj Liberhan, Director at India Habitat Center, interacted with the students present and it was wonderful hearing what they have taken from the whole experience. Some of the students talked about how the best part of the workshop was to go out and take photographs! Though initially hesitant and continually challenging, they eased into it. They learnt how to build a relationship with the people they were photographing. And while building this relationship, the most important element being respect. Respecting people and their personal spaces seems to be a lesson learnt for personal and professional life.
Nitin Upadhye has been working with young girls in orphanages in Kashmir. Photography came about as a solution to a problem – in order to to empower or enrich the lives of these young girls who had had a difficult past. He believed the result was magical.
I got to talk with Vidura and asked him what the most special feeling to come out of the workshop was – what made it satisfying? He said that it was the fact that there were more questions than answers at the end of the workshop that made everything worth it. This just makes possible the potential for larger things in the future. Vidura helped these students step out of their comfort zone in the IHC, onto other places in Delhi, like Chandni Chowk, Kotla and Dakshinpuri (an area where most of them live) and let go of their inhibitions and click. He mentioned that he had worked with children in Cambodia – 7-8 year olds – who were scared and had to be picked up literally to be pushed forward. The participants of this workshop had a different sort of fear! A girl who was part of this workshop, earlier mentioned how stepping out in the open with a camera as a girl made her apprehensive. Usually, this would invite stares and looks. But this exercise of getting out really helped her in letting go of it all and immerse herself in the world of photography.
Here’s to bringing in a bit of “jaadu” or magic and creating a larger world full of endless possibilities and potential.