Flying with Photography

May 14, 2011
*Special to asia!
-A +A

Gaining hope, a new perspective, and becoming engaged with the world, through photography.

Between February and March 2011, with the support of The Patatas, I conducted a photography workshop with some 34 students in Nepal, most of which were from underprivileged backgrounds. During the month-long course, students kept a journal of the lessons they learnt and the reflections they experienced. This is an excerpt from the journal of one of my students, Geeta Sunam.

By Geeta Sunam

22 Feb 2011: It was the first day of our photography workshop. I was really excited about the class. We heard that we will get one camera as well, because of this I was awaiting this day.

On the way to college, I was thinking, what type of photos do we have to click, where will we get the best pictures? How would be the class? Who will do better etc etc. Until I attend the class, all these questions were circulating in my mind.

After attending the class, sharing introductions and getting the camera, I just feel so glad. We have seen and touched camera many times and I just click photos without knowing the potential but after Debby didi told us, I was thinking oh! god, there's so much potential here! To know about camera and having camera in my own hand, it is like I am flying in the sky. I was very happy.

After the first session, we get an assignment about lines. I really do not have idea about how lines look. So on the way home, I was searching for the lines. I start looking here and there for the picture I want. I take out my camera and just start clicking pictures around me. Click, click, click...

832 Geeta Sunam did a photoessay about Kabita Surkheti, who is from the "untouchable" Dalit caste. Kabita lives in Naryannthan Kathmandu, Nepal, and is studying in class two. She has ambitions of becoming a doctor, but apart from overcoming stereotypes associated with her caste, she struggles to afford the education she needs. As her mother suffers from paralysis, Kabita's father, a mason, is the sole breadwinner for the family of four. In this photograph, Kabita and her father rest at tea shop at Bishnumati, Kathmandu.24 Feb 2011: I was very excited to submit my assignment and get feedback of it. I was quite nervous as well becuase I really don't know what my picture is? How will Debby didi and Sumeet dai going to respond to it. Whether the picture meets the theme or not?

After the second lecture, I started to click photos more and more. I found my photos nicer than the ones I took yesterday. After getting the nice picture, I click photos of the same things time and again and again.

It is just a great experience to click photos in different angle and to get a new picture of the same thing. After the class I get good knowledge about different structures that line can make and I use to see the difference in the same thing, I began to recognise the lines.

25 Feb 2011: In today's class, we review the photos of the participants. It is really a fantastic job. Debby didi start to compliment each photo, inside my heart, it's pounding. I am waiting my turn, I am excited to know my compliment too. We have all submitted five pictures among them one or two photos was slected, I was losing hope because my turn was in the middle. Till my turn came, I was so nervous. I am thinking that my picture does not make sense so it was not selected. Even though we were looking at the pictures of the other students, the compliments for each picture motivated me to take more and better photos.

Finally my turn came. Debby show my picture and start to comment. I was really happy. I didn't think I can click photos that might be liked by others. It's really amazing to get a compliment of work in positive sense. I learn that we have not observed seriously and taken care too look at the world around us. The small and things that we usually don't care about, when Debby didi mention it, I was thinking Ahh! A small thing made a lot of difference! When I found my photo work is nice, it encourage me to be more dedicated and sharpen my skills so that I can be the best.

3 March 2011: We have to submit photos that tell a simple story. The theme of our assignment was "Mother" along with caption. I click a few photos of mother figure. As the theme is about the a living being, it is quite difficult because most of the people whom I am taking their photos, they hesitated first, most of them denied and few of them are curious. First of all its people, that is the subject of our story. As this is the first time, I am also not feeling east to take pictures of unknown people.

However I click the photos I am unable to grasp the emotion of the people and the situation. Even though I wait, observe and click the picture. I write a caption for the photos and include the situation and the place. It is the first time I am writing a caption, describing the picture. From the time I started to write, I search large number of newspapers and look at the photos in it and the way of writing caption. The photo workshop is encouraging me to see the things which I do not care before and it is also encouraging me to think differently.

17 March 2011: It is the 2nd last class of our photo workshop. My heart is quite heavy to depart from the class however we will be working together for this whole year. We learn lots of things about photography. I know now that to be good photographer we should visit the same place time and again and observe things happening. I also got the chance to know how we should make a photo story. How a simple picture relates a large story. How the picture speaks what's inside it. How a picture today can tell a story about history. How we can attract people to read a story with a good picture. Ahh! It's great work, I have never done before. Photojournalism is fascinating me!

17 March 2011: Tomorrow is the very last class of our photo workshop. It's like a few weeks went in a blink.

I'm thankful for the chance to learn this skill. Now I can click pictures more nicely than ordinary people. I just don't have to sit back folding my hands, nodding my head down or asking other people to click. Now others can ask for me to take photographs. I can click nice photos of events. I can conceive the emotion, happiness of the people and the situation in my photos. Now I am able to make pictures of the same things in different ways and in the best method.

debby ngDebby Ng forayed into journalism following failed attempts at becoming a world-class equestrian. A wildlife crime investigator, underwater photographer, dive master and founder of a marine conservation organisation, she spends what remains of her time writing about the environment, its wildlife, and its people.

Contact Debby