India Days 4, 5 and Part of Day 6 – Mumbai, Hyderabad, Mandapeta

Thanks for your patience in updates; I’m trying to focus on the work at hand and I have been quite sick all the while. Most of the past two days have been spent with the children at school and in ANCER’s home. Of everything I have seen and done so far, hanging out with the nine children that ANCER supports has been the greatest reward. A few more than others have struck a chord, and I still have a lot of work to do in telling their stories, especially in written form.

Their home is above the school, on the third floor with an outdoor terrace overlooking the neighborhood. There are unfinished supports where they hope to build a roof that have colored fabrics hanging from them, adding immensely to the majesty of the space. We are often with the students around sunset so last night I made portraits of the students and Timbrel, Joe McNally style, using two Nikon SB900 off camera flashes, an umbrella, and light stand that I brought 8,500 miles along so far on this journey. I used collapsible stands, two different flash adapters The results were fantastic and the children loved getting the royal treatment. They deserve so much and if I could bring them all home with me, I would.

Each child is a brother or sister to one another by household, and to see them interact is amazing. They are so eager to learn, desperate to grow, full of joy and commitment to one another. You would never know by watching them interact that they are orphans with immeasurably painful pasts. I have photographed them extensively in daily life, chores, at school, but try my damnedest to interact with them as a person, teaching them English, geography and how to fist bump. I feel like there’s a good balance and for the most part, with the occasional photobomb, they give me space and have accepted me into their group. It is especially warming to say hi to those nine children when they are at school downstairs because it gives them special attention to their classmates.

Today is Wednesday in Mandapeta, India, and I’ll be departing for Hyderabad on Saturday. Friday presents a return to the leprosy colony, tonight and tomorrow will be spent with the students. This morning, Timbrel and I were out at 6 AM to photograph the countryside and city before it got busy as the sun came up. It was nothing short of spectacular. My eagerness and anxiety diminishes to tell these stories with justice as the final file count rises on my hard drives. I feel like this entire body of work makes everything else I’ve photographed feel completely amateur, and I hope the depth of the stories I’ll present down the road prove that to be true. Timbrel went to the doctor yesterday to get me better medication and I feel physically worlds better today.

In order to preserve the stories regarding ANCER and the community for publication, I’ll leave you with some of my favorites from my travels. I’m focusing on adding more layers and dimension to all of my images and wish I could show more, but if I can get just a few online via dial up, I’ll be happy for now. Keep the questions coming and if there’s anything particular you want to see that isn’t going to be published let me know. More to come!