In addition to blogging with frightening irregularity (two a month is a resolution for 2016, honest), as this year’s Media Fellow, I go into the field about once a month to document AIF’s programs. In November, I shot photo/video at one of our learning centers in Punjab, where a teacher came up to me and asked, with scrutiny behind every breath, if I depicted “the good parts of India,” and not just, “slums and poverty and rural children” struggling to overcome lack of opportunity. I empathize with her concern — it’s not a rarity for people’s trips to the developing world to culminate as a digitized form of poverty tourism on social media, best intentions notwithstanding.
I answered that I hope I portray India as honestly as I can, the good parts and the bad. I’ve had this teacher’s inquisition percolating in the back of my mind for some time, now. Most of the photos I capture end up on Instagram, where, in my never-ending quest to gain more followers, I tailor my digital presence in a Lord Henry Wotton-esque appeal to symmetry, beauty, and educational hostels for children of seasonal migrant laborers.
You could make a strong argument that attempting to break down the photos I’ve taken during my fellowship into “good” and “bad” portrayals of India is frivolous in its dichotomous approach to representing a vastly complex nation. And I’d agree. Instead, in this first part of my photo-focused post, I’ll introduce a few of the photos I’ve taken this year that I think might fall into the category of, “beautiful in a make-my-friends-jealous-and-think-I-travel-way-more-than-I-do-on-Instagram sorta way.”
Hold onto your butts:
Anyways, those are photos (debatably). Stay tuned for Part 2…