Fine art photography book – raising funds for women and children of India

Fine art photography book – raising funds for women and children of India

In 2019, I went on a wild adventure travelling through Rajasthan in India.  It was September 2019 and we had no idea what was around the corner.  Merely four months later, we started to hear about the coronavirus first emerging in China.  Fast forward to 2021 and coronavirus has changed the world as we knew it.  India has been struggling for weeks, nay months with a second wave, which has sickened millions, killed tens of thousands and overwhelmed the nation’s health care system.  At the peak of the crisis, new infections numbered about 400,000 a day – a record-breaking pace.  Thankfully, infections are coming down but the ongoing impact of coronavirus remains.  The loss of family members, income, livelihood, health, will have a lasting impact, particularly on women and children.

It’s for this reason that I created a fundraiser by developing a fine art photographic book of photos taken on my travels to India.

 

I’ve curated some of my favourite images of women taken on my travels below as a glimpse into their lives.  I’ve been wondering throughout 2020 and 2021 how their lives have been impacted by coronavirus.  They were so happy to have their photos taken and I see in them a great sense of pride, wisdom, stoicism, humbleness, humanity and friendship.

 

Click here to support women and children of Rajasthan and take part in this fundraising initiative

 

These women were selling their jewelry outside the fort in Jaisalmer, a former medieval trading center. From earrings to ankle bracelets and everything in between, the jewelry was stunning, with lots of beads, colour, and sounds.

 

I love the way so many people pile onto motorbikes and the women ride ‘side saddle’. She was clearly having a great time. Love her big smile for my camera.

 

This woman said yes to having her photo taken. I like her straight-up pose looking directly at my camera. Her gaze prompts lots of questions in my mind, while her son seems dubious about it all.

 

The woman on the right in pink and her friends were tourists as well, seeing their own country (pre-COVID). This was one of the many moments we shared with the people we met – mostly women – where we took photos of each other, laughing and sharing the joy of travel and meeting new people. We couldn’t speak each other’s language, but we didn’t need to. The woman on the right was going about her daily life. I am amazed and in awe of the way women in India carry large containers on their heads.

 

The pink ladies of Jodhpur. I love the wisdom in this women’s eyes.

 

This photo was taken in Varanasi while waiting for the Ganga Aarti (the ritual of offering prayer to the Ganges river) which is held daily at dusk. The Ganga Aarti starts soon after sunset and lasts for about 45 minutes. I was taking photos while waiting for it to start and I turned around to see what was behind me, and the women all moved out in a line to be photographed.

 

One of my favourite days was an afternoon spent strolling around the old village in Udaipur.  We chatted to lots of local women, and I took several portraits. This woman was one of many. I loved the muted colour of her sari.

 

I always remind myself to take photos from different vantage points and loved this shot for its colour, lines, formation.

 

This photo was taken somewhere between major cities. We had driven through parts of India where we saw many women in the fields tending to crops and farming (always in their beautiful saris). This truck, I presume was taking these women back to the fields for an afternoon of work.

 

The women on the left were caretakers at one of the forts and the woman on the right was one of the portraits I took while in Udaipur. I would love to know her story – her gaze asks us to really see her.

 

At dusk, the Ganga Aarti ceremony is performed whereby small offerings are given to the Goddess Ganga. An aarti is a devotional ritual using fire and it’s common to place a small candle inside a cup made from leaves and flowers and float it down the river. The ritual happens every single day and has an intense and magical feeling. The young girl on the right was on her way to school. The area where lives was being redeveloped.

 

The woman on her left posed for me outside the Chand Baori, a stepwell in the village of Abhaneri. And the young women on the right at Agra take a moment to pose for a selfie.

 

Back in Udaipur, this woman’s livelihood was dressmaking and she had her sewing machine set up in a room that was open to the street. She is here with her young daughter. While the woman on the right was going home after getting supplies from the grocers. I love the smile of her daughter.

 

Walking in thought.

 

I love the elegance of this woman. This was taken during another photo session with a group of people during our travels where we ended up taking photos of each other – such fun.

 

Sisters, walking arm in arm to school.

All photos © Kris Ashpole

 

“One moment can change a day, one day can change a life and one life can change the world.”Gautama Buddha.

 

With India experiencing a devasting wave of coronavirus – a humanitarian crisis of monumental proportions – I’ve been wondering what I can do to help a country I fell in love with on a whirlwind two-week adventure, traversing Rajasthan, visiting 11 cities in 12 days. India is a photographer’s dream and I took so many photos – literally in the thousands.

To raise much-needed funds to support India, I’ve turned some of my favourite images into a fine art photography coffee table book. The book is a tribute to the people of India and a celebration of this beautiful country.

I’m aiming to raise $5,000 to donate to the Sambhali Trust based in Jodphur to further their work. They’re providing much-needed food, face masks, medicines, counselling, mobilising the community for COVID tests and vaccinations, and supporting women and families in Rajasthan.

India currently has been called the “home to the world’s worst ongoing coronavirus outbreak”. The impact will be long-lasting.

 

“I don’t want anyone to appreciate the light or the palette of tones. I want my pictures to inform, to provoke discussion – and to raise money.”, Sebastião Salgado

 

Click here to support women and children of Rajasthan and take part in this fundraising initiative

 

About the Sambhali Trust

The Trust is an NGO focused on the development and empowerment of marginalized women and girls in Rajasthan. They work throughout Jodhpur and the surrounding Thar desert with women and children experiencing discrimination and violence on a daily basis due to economic, gender, and caste status. These women face extreme poverty and social exclusion – deprived of education, health care, and legal resources. Many lack any autonomy in their domestic lives, and face severe verbal, physical, and sexual abuse within their communities. At Sambhali, they equip underprivileged women with the tools to become financially independent, provide for their children, and establish self-sustaining communities of support.

Help support India and the Sambhali Trust by buying a copy of this book, which at just $39,95 (plus postage) would make a wonderful gift for upcoming birthdays, Christmas presents (nothing like getting in early) or a gift for yourself. 100% of the profits from the sale of the book will be donated.

 

Due to the Sydney lockdown, pre-orders have been extended to 9 July with delivery approximately 21-30 days after I order the books (which may vary depending on printing time).  Pre-order your copy here.

 

We wait for the day when we can return to India.

 

With love and light,

 

Kris xx

Kris
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