What do you see in this picture?
Can you imagine what’s covered with that blue shawl?
With reference to its shape or with that of the half revealed objects next to it, you may definitely bring different objects in your mind. And you may even not bother thinking about what it is as the photograph may not have attracted you enough, but you may be amazed to know this is the best photograph for Shiv Kandel among the ones he has captured till date.
Burk Uzzle, an American photo journalist, in 1938 said, “Photography helps people to see”. And talking about this photograph with Shiv made me realize the same. He could see the whole Tamang community of Simle, a village of Nepal in this single picture and I was amazed to know the story behind it. Actually, the shape covered below that blue shawl (cloth) is that of a young girl who used to be one of his students. She, like other students of Simle was very shy . That day she was fetching water and when she saw Shiv trying to capture her photograph she hid herself under that shawl.
Shiv shares, “When I see this picture, even now, I think of all the other children who are struggling to learn new things in their classroom either because they are introvert or because they don’t find a comfortable environment for learning.”
Shiv worked as a Teach For Nepal Fellow and taught Mathematics for two years at Simle. Yes, he has several stories of transformation working as a Fellow. However, this time, I wanted to talk to a new person that I have noticed Shiv has grown into.
I knew Shiv three years back and since then I have seen him being keen on photography. I have seen him posting all his photographs on his Facebook wall and going through it I have seen him growing to be a wonderful photographer. Thus, this time I wanted to talk to him about his journey of photography and I think what he shared is definitely worth spreading.
Now working as a Documentation coordinator at Teach For Nepal, Shiv has a responsibility of collecting stories of all the Fellows of Teach For Nepal. But apart from that he loves being acquainted with people from different backgrounds and learning their perspectives. This gets reflected well in his photographs. You can find him capturing each and every moment. Though, he is being praised for his photographic skills these days, he doesn’t like being called a photographer. And he has his own logic for that.
(Surakhsya has a small cut on her lips.
Yesterday before going to school she wasn’t willing to eat. Her
sister was persuading her to eat and go to school.)
“I may look rigid but I am very emotional by heart. I love saving the memories as it helps me deal with my frustrations. Whenever I am in pain or in confusion, I go back to my memories and droll on it. My photographs motivate me. It reveals the true side of me. Going through them I find myself and that self is not a professional photographer but I am out of my experiences and memories.” shares Shiv.
When I am writing this I am aware that several photographs are already being uploaded in the social media and thousands of ‘selfies’ are being taken which are soon going to be part of your account. But have we ever reflected about ourselves looking at our own photographs? Have we ever tried reading the story that our own portrait displays?
Definitely ‘NO’ in my case. But after listening to what he shared, I will definitely observe it properly now onwards. I will try to understand each and every pixel of the image. Shiv started capturing photos only a year back when his elder brother gifted him a DSLR. Without knowing the proper use of it, he started capturing photos and only after few months he realized that the color that he had been thinking his best color is actually not his best its rather the other one.
“What is your name?”
“My name is Suman Pahari”
“What is your school’s name?”
“My school’s name is Annapurna School.”
“In which class do you read?”
“I read in class 5.”
“Aren’t you getting late for school?”
Before you go, can I take your photo?”
Suman’s mother is one of the street vendors in Ason
who sells cigarettes and tobacco. She always insists him
to speak English even at home.
“I always thought black was my best color thus used to take life either black or white but after observing the photos that I happened to capture, I realized how colorful everything and life was. And this drastically changed the way I perceived people around me.” reflects Shiv.
Another interesting part of Shiv’s photography is that he tries to avoid the use of zoom lens because he feels that it would take away his opportunity of getting connected with his subject. Shiv reveals “I don’t want to be an outsider in my photograph rather I want to get well connected with them. I want to learn their story before clicking their portrait and I want my photos to reveal that story.”
As I mentioned earlier, I knew Shiv three years back. Talking to this Shiv, I found a huge transformation in him from that non-reflective Shiv to this contemplative Shiv. I know several experiences of his life has made him the one he is today. However, I feel, which he too accepts is that some of the credit goes to the camera that captures his experiences and gives him a moment to reflect upon.
Next time if you click a photo observe it carefully, your photo too may reveal a story that could change the way you perceive your life.
Published as: Seeking Identity through Images: Shiv Kandel’s Photography (Story of Transformation 24)
By Bhawana Shrestha on October 31, 2016, Mondey