Peace Festival 2008—Photography Workshop

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Photography Workshop…

When I decided to attend the photography workshop I kept wondering what would be the outcome. Since it was only a two hour workshop I realized that it would be quite different from other workshops I had attended. When the 4 participants arrived we started the workshop with a brief introduction to photography, its purpose and its use. In an effort to make us appreciate photographs better Bishan gave each of us a book in which there were a collection of good photographs. Each one of us got a different book and all the books had a different subject. He gave us 5 minutes in which we had to see all the photographs and choose one that appealed to us and also mention why it was good.

My first impression when I saw the photographs was good so how was I to find out the best. After sometime I decided on the photograph that appealed to me the most. All of us were told to display our selection and also state our reasons for liking it. With each photograph we learnt a new skill of photography. After making the basics very clear to us Bishan told us that each of us would have to make a photo story. He showed us a photo story to give us a better idea of what we were expected to do.

I hadn’t even decided on my topic but my co- participants had already started and so I was a little discouraged. We were given 5 minutes to think of a topic we wanted to work on. My mind was numb and I just could not figure out what I was supposed to do in such a short span of time. Honestly speaking I thought Bishan had gone completely crazy to expect that I could come up with a topic in 5 minutes and actually work on it. I decided that I would do something on the rainbow children of Loreto Sealdah. Since, Loreto is my alma mater I fell back on it to help me out in that time of crisis. With all arrangements made I went to Loreto Sealdah to work on my project. I did this work on shashthi, saptami, ashtami. Being a Bengali it was a very big sacrifice on my part. I kept on asking myself why I was doing it. Working, living, helping and sharing the lives of those children changed my perspective on life. Being an only daughter I had always been spoilt by my family. There I learnt to share my life with those children. I realized that their lives are similar yet different from mine. They had ample opportunities in life but no true family to share their lives with. I realized that I was any day more privileged. I underwent a kind of change that made me a wiser person and also brought me close to my parents. Certain experiences can leave you numb for sometime, this was one of them. After getting the photos developed I brought the photos to Bishan and Megha.

The day I brought the photos I found out to my utter horror that after so much work only the ‘storyline’ had been found. Then I began to wonder how much of work was left. I was soon told that I would have to go some more times to take the photographs of one girl at different times of the day. This was not my favourite idea as I knew this would tire me out completely. I decided that I would do all the work on the same day. On the selected days I went at 5.00am clicked till 7.30am, again went at 4.30pm and clicked till 8.30pm. This exhausted me totally but I was satisfied with the work I had done and also felt happy that I had made a new friend. I just hoped that night that the photographs would come out well. When I received my negatives I found out to my utter disappointment that some of the best shots had been destroyed during processing. I felt like crying but I could not help it as once the negatives were destroyed there was no way to recover those photos.

I took the negatives to Bishan who assured me that he would work on those photographs. This promise gave me some consolation but I bitterly resented the loss of those photographs. A month later when I saw those photographs that had gone up for the exhibition I could not help but smile as I liked the work that had finally gone up. Though this workshop was much shorter than the theatre workshop I attended earlier it was more of an individual journey. In the Bengali theatre workshop I worked in a group but here it was more of an individual development in which only the individual stands to gain. Here the involvement was not within the group but outside the group. Living with those children helped me to live with a difference. Through the exhibition we were trying to spread the message of peace and also trying to live with a difference. When I went there I was quick to notice the simplicity that they lived in. They survived and thrived with only the basic requirements of life. I realized that they lived without any kind of luxury in their life and yet lived happily and peacefully. There were times when I was on the verge of giving up as I would get discouraged by small obstacles but my conscience egged me on and thus I had my fair share of highs and lows during the journey.

— A report by Utsarjana Mutsuddi