2nd Street Photography Workshop in Aid of the Hope Foundation, Kolkata. 11th November 2013.
My name is Mark Carey and I am a professional photographer based in London. In the spring and summer I shoot documentary weddings in the UK and in the winter I shoot street, travel and documentary photographs abroad. I have photographed all over Europe and South East Asia but the last couple of years I have been drawn strongly to India in particular and have been pleased to have developed an association with The Hope Foundation and have been privileged to photographically document many of their fascinating projects in Kolkata. I am proud to a member of the Indian street photography collective ‘Thats life’ and you can see an interview about shooting in India and my attitude to street photography in general here: Interview with Eric Kim. Please also feel free to flick through my travel and documentary galleries on this site to get an idea of my shooting style. You can also find me on Facebook for my latest work.
Hope Foundation administer primary health care at Solo Bigha slum.
About The Hope Foundation.
Over 250,000 children are forced to exist on the streets of Kolkata (Calcutta). Around five million people live in horrific conditions in slums. They do not have clean water; children are often hungry and diahorrea and skin diseases are common.
To survive, children scavenge in rubbish dumps to find scraps to sell or beg on the streets. Most are not in school and have poor health. Many children are abandoned and are at high risk of abuse, exploitation and child trafficking.
We work with committed people and organisations to change these children’s lives. We fund and support projects in health, nutrition, child protection and education. We also advocate for better services and seek ways to support access to Government programmes.
HOPE believes in sustainable development. We partner with 14 local Indian NGOs and currently fund over 60 projects for street and slum children and their families in: education, healthcare, child protection, nutrition, drug rehabilitation and vocational training.
As well as these front line projects, HOPE has created innovative programmes to highlight and tackle complex cultural issues, such as child labour and child trafficking.
For more information please see The Hope Foundation’s website: http://www.hopefoundation.ie
So, what is Street photography?
Street photography for me is about shooting engaging images, usually candidly, on the streets and in other public places. In most instances we shall be trying to document street life where people are not posing for the camera and we shall thinking about our backgrounds and environments to use as strong compositional elements. Some examples can be seen at the end of this article.
About the workshop.
I shall be running this 2nd workshop in aid of The Hope Foundation from the 11th November 2013 for 7 days. The first workshop was attended by six phootographers from Ireland, France, Australia and the UK in February 2013 and was a great success. The cost of attending the workshop will be £550 per person and this fee will go in its entirety to The Hope Foundation to help fund the amazing work they carry out in Kolkata, changing the lives of children and adolescents. The fee is for the cost of the workshop only and does not include any other costs. Accommodation, food, travel expenses are not included and should be paid directly to the provider of that service. I shall not be receiving any funds for myself or to pass on to any third party for any service and payment for the workshop will be made directly to HOPE. Participants must make sure they make proper arrangements for travel and health insurance and have have the appropriate inoculations for travelling in this area of the world. HOPE will provide an advice sheet on such matters.
This will be a 7 day workshop. Each day after a swift breakfast we will be getting out and about on the streets reasonably early to make the best of the morning light. The days are very hot and long and we will need to pace ourselves to get the best out of our days photographically. We will also get out some evenings to do a bit of night shooting as well. Realistically though I have found mid to late afternoon and evenings will be our most rewarding times — but basically we shall find an itinerary that suits the group as a whole. There are also plenty of shaded areas to shoot in during the heat of the day as well as visiting HOPE projects. Whilst shooting we may be accompanied by photographers who have local knowledge of the area and the local language, Bengali.
The morning shoots will be followed by lunch and then we can have an informal critique session back at our accommodation or when we are out and about. In this critique and general discussion time we shall examine techniques of composition, timing and exposure whilst reviewing images on our laptops. Our group will be relatively small - I am aiming for 6–8 of us in total. I will have plenty of one to one time with attendees and this will largely be in the evening. At times, depending on the area we are in, we can split up into smaller groups of 3’s and 4’s so that we don’t all crowd our subjects and come over like a herd of ‘snap-happy’ tourists. We will always be safe and always fix a meeting point. Our occasional local guides will be invaluable to get us to the places that regular tourists would perhaps find difficult to navigate. A maximum number of 8 will also make getting around in taxis ( which are already cheap) more economical since a taxi will seat 4 passengers.
The evenings will be a time to relax, download our memory cards and do as we wish and I will critique images then and suggest changes that you may wish to implement the following day.
I will help photographers with technical issues with their cameras ( if they need it) and show them how to get the best out of their SLR’s particularly if they have been shooting in Auto or priority modes eg Aperture Priority. I believe shooting manual may be scary but is a must if you are going to get the exact exposure you want — not the one exposure the camera guesses that you want. Perhaps learning to shoot fully manual exposure will be a little slow at first but it is my belief that with disclipline one quickly becomes quicker and the need for speed in street photography is usually unnecessary. Contrary to popular belief good street photography is not necessarily about snatching that moment. I will demonstrate the importance of being quiet, being sensitive to your surroundings, being patient and thinking ahead. There will however be time when shooting in priority modes may be more effective and I shall advise you how and when to shoot like this.
Importantly, I will only be acting only as a guide for your photography — we must each find our own style that is within us. I will not be prescriptive about how you shoot but more suggest from time to time that you may wish to try something you haven’t considered. It is not my intention to help people shoot like me but try and find the best version of their own photographic self that they can. This will come by sharpening up some of your shooting techniques and encouraging you to look at things in a different way. I am sure that by the end of the day we will have all have learned something new from each other since that is usually the way of these things — I shall just be the person to facilitate this.
During the course we shall be looking that the following sorts of topics:
- How to shoot engaging images whilst remaining unobtrusive.
- Shooting in low light.
- Composition and framing.
- Different exposures for different kinds of lighting conditions.
- Workflow — getting the best out of your images. Dealing with raw files.
- Focusing tips and tricks, exposure and general camera tuition if needed.
Attendees should have with them the following:
- A digital SLR and manual for that camera if they are unfamiliar with the settings or something of reasonable quality like a Fuji x100 or similar.
- A lens or lenses, preferably wide angle. 24-50mm is encouraged. I rarely shoot above 50mm and discourage longer lenses than this for street photography.
- A laptop and software — I use Adobe Lightroom and this software will be the basis of dealing with all our processing.
- A memory card reader.
Where shall we stay?
Accommodation is presently being arranged. We are looking at places to stay where we we will be in the heart of the community rather than at an expensive hotel. The place we are currently looking at has clean rooms and is a family run hotel previously used for HOPE volunteers. A typical tarrif is INR 2800/ (Aprx 30 sterling) for per night double occupancy and INR 2200/ for single occupancy including breakfast. We have presently blocked out 6 rooms that can be used as either singles or doubles.
Visiting HOPE Centres and Projects.
During the course of the 7 days we will make a 2 or 3 of visits to the HOPE Foundation Centres so attendees of the workshop can see where their money is going. These are some of the most interesting parts of the workshop and we will have unique access to slums , the HOPE hospital and other projects. We may possibly also be able to go out with the ‘Night ambulance’ visiting and picking up people in distress on the streets of Kolkata.
If we are shooting anyone involved in any HOPE projects we must adhere to the code of images & messages reference Dochas, www.dochas.ie/code
Who should you be?
This workshop is open to all. The only criteria it that you love photography and are prepared to be courteous to the people we are shooting in our host nation, India. We will be shooting sensitively and not making a big hullabaloo where ever we go, not acting like a herd of tourists snapping and moving on. We won’t be marching down the streets and descending upon some ‘interesting character, sticking our cameras in his or her face. I hope we shall be treading softly in our environment and this is how we will get the best images.
In terms of camera expertise your passion for photography will be more important than your technical knowledge. I will endeavour to help people with their technical problems if they need it but if you are a complete beginner please be aware that I will be having to divide my time fairly between participants. Ideally you will have some form of SLR and a laptop. If you dont have Adobe Lightroom on your laptop that is not absolutely necessary but it will be very helpful.
The accommodation, travel arrangements, appropriate inoculations, and visas will be the responsibility of the participants but HOPE and I will liaise with you to endeavour that this goes smoothly. Your accommodation will be paid directly to the place we stay. I will try and help in whatever way I can but please be aware that Calcutta is not my home town. I have shot in India many times and will assist as much as I can, but people need to be comfortable getting around in India. My personal responsibility extends only as far as going out with the participants each day and helping them improve their photography. Once the hotel is booked then our daily arrangements shouldn’t be too complicated though. India is an immensely friendly place and Im sure we will have plenty of people to assist us should we need it. I personally know many people in Calcutta who can help us if we need them and have never worried for my safety.
Many thanks for reading and anyone interested in joining this workshop should please send me an email to: firstname.lastname@example.org.
A few images now from my last trip to Kolkata:
Making shapes with elements of your pictures is very important to your compositions. We will be talking alot about using strong shapes and lines in our images.
We will be stopping at plenty of chai shops — They are often a great place to relax and shoot.
Looking for clean frames can be a challenge in Kolkata.
The lanes of North Kolkata are street photographers dream. Shooting fully manual will allow you to shoot ‘low key’ images like this one.
Night shooting near Rabindra Sadan.
Everyone is interesting — even cinema ticket vendors!
Composing simple scenes can be very rewarding.
Ill be sharing some techniques to get close to your subjects sometimes without getting cheesy smiles or upsetting anyone.
Expressions are everything! There are techniques to get expressions like this without posing your subjects. Its not all about ‘snap and run’ much more about ‘settle in and wait’!
Attendees of the previous Kolkata workshop, February 2013.
Kelly entertaining the children at Chetla Slum on our first day out.
This little girls face was priceless!
Magali and Barry shooting down at the Ghats.
Margaret wandering the lanes of Kurmatuli, a potters quarter in norther Kolkata.
Jenny takes a break to review her images in Chetla Slum.
Showing Barry how to shoot successfully in very, very low light…
This man rewarded us with such a gentle expression.
Mike and Barry visiting of the boys homes. Please remember we must all sign up to the ‘Dochas’ code of conduct, which are principles that protect the human dignity of our subjects particularly when we are shooting images of underprivileged people.
Images of the Hope Foundation projects.
The images below are some pictures that I have taken whilst visiting some of the HOPE centres in Kolkata which I hope give a flavour of the kind of projects HOPE carry out in the community.
Maureen Forest — Founder of the Hope Foundation.
Feeding children at a Hope drop-in feeding centre by Howrah train station many of these survive by collecting plastic bottles from the trains and some are unfortunately addicted to sniffing glue. Hope staff can keep an eye on these children to see if they need further help, taking them into Hope rehabilitation projects if necessary.
These children will often sleep on the platforms at night.
Collecting plastic bottles from the trains.
HOPE’s school in the heart of Kalighat, one of Kolkata’s main red light area. Here children of sex workers are educated in safety.
Howrah Dump slum one of many slums where HOPE offer protection to those without a family and provide education within the communities.
People living cheek by jowl with animals at Howrah’s municipal dump. These pigs scavenge on the dump all day long.
Out with the ‘Night ambulance’ to collect a lady living in a car park. Her broken leg was poorly re-set in a government hospital and now a severe infection has set in.
Radya, the lady with the infected leg, is taken back to the Hope hospital for emergency treatment.
Arriving at the HOPE hospital.
Radya is settled in for the night. The following day she will have surgery.
HOPE have a well equipped operating theatre at the hospital.
A full team of surgeons, anaesthetists and nurses attend to Radya. This hospital costs a great deal of money to function and maintain. Donations are always needed to fund such a large organisation.
The extent of Radyas injuries are clear to see.
The following day Samiran, the man who helped rescue Radya from the car park visits her. She is clearly much happier and pain free.
The same evening as Radya was rescued I came across Ganesh at the hospital. Severely malnourished and weak he was admitted weighing only 8 kg and was 4 years old.
Ganesh’s tiny hand.
Hope arrive at Solo Bigha slum for a primary health care visit. They will spend all day here administering essential medicines in this slum that has very recently suffered extensive fire damage.
Primary health care at Solo Bigha slum
- Back at the HOPE cafe and Life-skills centre. It seems like an all day Irish breakfast is always on the menu!
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