The Great Automatic Instagrammatizator, Part 2

When I wrote the first entry of this blog, I thought I had a clever idea. I planned on using all of the same photos for the second entry, with differently-worded captions to make a blatant, redundant point: “good” and “bad” are both a matter of perspective.

 

For instance:

 

A place I'd rather not name, because I want it to stay this way. 2015
Swass Country, 2015

 

In hindsight, this approach is just lazy, and it doesn’t address the questions the headmistress in rural Punjab asked me: do I show the good parts of India, or just the bad?

 

I take a decent amount of photos in India. Some I consider outright dreadful with regards to the basic tenants of photographic composition (these don’t even make it into the editing room). Others I consider bad because they depict scenes already deeply ingrained in the public imagination: a head-on, wide shot of the Taj Mahal, for instance (I’ll occasionally post these due to my superficial grasp of self-marketing).

 

IMG_0784
Or the Victoria Memorial in Kolkata

 

There haven’t been too many occasions where I’ve taken photos of things I consider to be subjectively bad. The one instance that comes to mind right away was when I was in the foothills of the Himalayas in Uttarakhand for a shoot, last May. I was in a car being driven to a newly-constructed women’s bathroom in a very remote village, when I spotted two women carrying enormous piles of some harvest crop on their heads (I’d been told women alone do this sort of heavy lifting in the region). They were climbing uphill, carrying these enormous loads, while men lounged idly nearby at a roadside dhaba, sipping chai and laughing amongst themselves. I hastily turned on my camera and snapped a blurry, passenger seat photo of the scene. Upon reviewing the photo in the following moments, I remember thinking to myself, “This looks bad.”

I don’t know why I’ve allowed that headmistress’ question to dog me as long as it has; maybe I’m just insecure as a photographer (“I consider myself a videographer in training, actually” *sips chai with pinky out*) or maybe there’s the notion that some people in the underprivileged areas I’m going into for shoots don’t want their lives to be subject to fundraising galas and Facebook gawkers.

Or maybe she was just a protective headmistress who only wanted to make sure I wasn’t taking photos of any dirty walls or kids who were goofing around instead of paying attention in class?

Rural Sonarpur, just outside of Kolkata's city limits.
Rural Sonarpur, just outside of Kolkata’s city limits.

 

A child who's not enrolled in AIF's LAMP courses in Ganiary looks on from outside our Learning Resource Center
A child who’s not enrolled in AIF’s LAMP courses in Ganiary looks on from outside our Learning Resource Center

 

A teacher begins a lesson on water during a science-themed lesson at an AIF LAMP center in Orissa.
A teacher begins a lesson on water during a science-themed lesson at an AIF LAMP center in Orissa.

 

AIF beneficiary Satyaban learns about electricity using a light bulb, a leaf, and a D cell battery
AIF beneficiary Satyaban learns about electricity using a light bulb, a leaf, and a D cell battery

 

MAST beneficiaries design and print me a gift on a Makerbot 3D Printer
MAST beneficiaries design and print me a gift on a Makerbot 3D Printer

 

Young women display computer proficiency in a MAST center outside of Kolkata
Young women display computer proficiency in a MAST center outside of Kolkata

 

Men bathe in the Sundar River in Odisha
Men bathe in the Sundar River in Odisha

 

Two beneficiary's of AIF's MAST partnership with Anudip in Kolkata posing near a 3D printer
Two beneficiary’s of AIF’s MAST partnership with Anudip in Kolkata posing near a 3D printer

 

Anyways, that’s two posts in as many weeks…

Until this time, next year!

 

 

Christopher has been creating visual media for the past decade and has spent the past two years producing content for clients in India. As an undergraduate student, Christopher directed and produced a number of short films, which were featured at film festivals, such as The 2011 Cannes International Film Festival's American Short Film Corner, the 20th Annual Reel Loud Film Festival, and The Green Screen Environmental Film Premiere. After graduating, Christopher spent six months as a videographer based out of Bangalore, where he collaborated with INKTalks and the Google-sponsored Next Billion Online Project. As a 2014-2015 AIF Clinton Fellow, Christopher was placed with Mummy Daddy Media in Delhi, where he produced online content for several clients, including Ritu Kumar, Brookings India, and the British Council. He also created a number of promotional videos for regional NGOs, like Hunnarshala in Bhuj, Gujarat, and Aarohi in Satoli, Uttarakhand.

You Might Also Like

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Join Us

Stay up to date on the latest news and help spread the word.

AMERICAN INDIA FOUNDATION IS A REGISTERED 501 (C)(3) Charity. © 2020
NEW YORK | CALIFORNIA | NEW DELHI

Privacy Policy

Get Involved

Our regional chapters let you bring the AIF community offline. Meet up and be a part of a chapter near you.

Join a Chapter