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Bring Home Stories organised a photo walk in Kathputli Colony. We had seven finalists and the winner was Reema Gill, read what she has to say! Some of Reema's beautiful Pictures of Kathputli Colony are on the photowalk page

Kathputli Photo walk Image

Share your experience of the photowalk in Kathputli Colony with us.

When I received the email mentioning that I am one of the photographers selected for the walk I had little idea about the ongoing struggle of the residents of the colony. I started with my little research on the colony. After reading about its present situation, I realized that this photo walk is not going to be easy. I will be visiting the colony at a time when the emotions of the people of this slum are soaring high. I was concerned about peoples’ reaction towards the photographers. But it did not go as I assumed. Most of the residents met during the walk comfortably talked about their art, livelihood, stay in the colony and problems faced.

Were you able to break the ice between you and the residents whose pictures you clicked? Did they open up to you about their lives and concerns?

There was mixed response from the residents. Many of them discussed in details about their work, their lives, issue of eviction and how their livelihood is in danger due to new development policies of DDA. Only few of the residents met during the walk were apprehensive about the whole idea of them and their lives being photographed. They felt that it may bring them into limelight, thus increasing the possibilities of their eviction.

Did you have something particular in mind while you were clicking? Did you have a pre-decided idea of what you wanted your photographs to convey?

I did not have any pre-decided idea and went with an open mind for the photowalk. Before we began a briefing about the situation of the colony and the ongoing resistance of the residents against their eviction by the DDA for development purposes was given by the head Pradhan. It gave me a little direction to the nature of conversations to be held and issues to be discussed with the residents of the colony.

You must have clicked galore during the walk. How difficult is it generally to choose just a few from vast number of photographs to send them forth?

For any photographer it is difficult to choose few from the large number of photographs taken by him/her. I selected the photographs with an intention to bring out the story of the people of Kathputli colony as it unfolded in front of me during the walk. I also added captions along with the photographs so that it conveys what I wanted the viewer or reader to know. The captions were written based on the conversations with the residents and the questions and emotions that were evoked in me during the photo walk.

How important do you think images/pictures are while conveying a story/ an issue or carrying forward a campaign?

It is important that the images are able to convey the intended story. Being a visual instrument, photographs can have a powerful impact on the viewers as they get a glimpse of the real situation. It enables them to relate to the issues being faced by others or themselves. Thus, if carefully done, photographs can be very helpful to carry forward a campaign.

In the capacity of being a photographer, what did you like about the colony?

The colony houses more than twelve communities with each group staying in its part of the slum. In spite of belonging to different regions, castes, religions and communities they all live in harmony and interact with each other freely.

Can you say that you learnt something from this experience?

I learnt not only as a photographer but also as an individual. Being a researcher in social sciences, this photowalk was a practical experience.

I got an opportunity to interact with residents who openly discussed their lives with me. It made me feel responsible that my photographs should do justice to their trust in me and represent what they wanted to convey.

Keeping the current issue of the colony in mind, would you like to say something about the residents and the colony?

Most of the residents of the colony are uneducated and practice traditional artforms from generations. Their only source of survival is their art. In the name of development many people in India have lost or are on the verge of losing their livelihood, land, family etc. The government is for our welfare and not to take away what we have!

The Kathputli colony is one more addition to the common man vs. profit motive backed development being followed in India. We should not be silent observers of the struggle of people for their rightful stay and access to land. The residents of the Kathputli colony need support of people from all sections of the society. The demolition of the colony will not only lead to loss of traditional art forms, it will also affect the future of many families who will be evicted soon.





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