cohn17

May 29, 2012

two weeks of teaching photography in rural tamil nadu – part 2

during the second week, i went to salem, about 65 km south of dharmapuri. it is a significantly larger city and district than dharmapuri (3.5 million people vs. 1.5 million), and there was a different feel to this second group of kids. in part, it may have been that, because they come from a more urbanized area, they have different perspectives; or perhaps, because they had further to travel each day, they had less time to search for stories. it also may be that “only” six of them had been rescued from child labor, while the other four instead were members of the children’s parliament, the local children’s advocacy organ. (i don’t mean to be glib – six is still six too many – but i think the mix affected the way some of them approached the assignment.) at any rate, we ended up with more daily life scenes than issue scenes, but they still produced some great photos by the end of the week.

it’s also important for me to mention that one of the girls who was rescued from labor was subsequently mainstreamed back into public school, and she now is a star track athlete who is about to represent tamil nadu in a national competition in mumbai. i’m trying to not sound preachy, but … child labor is a crime against the future of the entire country.

now, the photos:

kannan focused on village life and caught some wonderfully spontaneous shots. lavanya did a mix of photos.  the second photo is of a child laborer.
nathaji photographed garbage in the village and unsanitary conditions around the water tank – two common scenarios. pasupathi executed some textbook close-up shots, and also documented issues of food safety in the markets. (note the flies.)
rathidevi documented workers, including these scenes at a brick kiln. ramya’s work fascinated me because she took a lot of photos of magazine pages and television screens, essentially taking a post-modern approach to photography. but how do you explain jean baudrillard to kids?
santhosh was drawn toward photographing flowers. the second photo subtly reminded me that trash on the street is a human problem; it doesn’t exist by itself. shanti took one of the best street photography shots i’ve seen in a while. the second photo shows workers employed under the national rural employment guarantee act.
tamilselvam also focused on scenes of village life. tamilselvi was concerned about the men and boys climbing coconut trees without any safety devices.

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