The school under the bridge in Delhi

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Harv. (website | tumblr | instagram) shot the free school for street and slum children located under a bridge in Delhi with his Nikon D3 and various Nikkor lenses:

My name is Harv., I’m a portrait and music photographer based in the UK. A couple of months ago I had an opportunity to go to India, the last time I was there was eighteen years ago, so I jumped at the chance to go back, and arranged a few stories to cover and pictures to take there.

One of the places that intrigued me was a school I’d heard about, a free school for underprivileged children and street kids from a slum in East Delhi. One of the interesting things about this school is that it has no building, the classes take place in the open air, under the bridge of a metro train station. There are no desks or chairs, the 200+ children sit on the dusty ground, use walls as blackboards and write in their notebooks the best they can.

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I have immense respect for the founder Rajesh Kumar Sharma and his colleague Mr Laxmi Chandra,  for what they’ve achieved with this school and how much love they have for their students. I contacted them a few weeks before I went to India, and they agreed to let me take pictures there, although I felt they weren’t quite sure about it. This slight reluctance changed within the first hour I was there. They saw how I was interacting with the children, had a look at the images I had taken, and realised I wasn’t a tourist taking a few snaps, but someone who was trying to tell their story through my photographs. Further details of the school can be found here if you feel you can help them in any way.

These are a few of the images I took at the school, I spent the day there, met some incredible children, got covered in all sorts of Delhi dirt and was humbled by the whole experience. As someone from the outside, the poverty in India is something I’ve always found very difficult to come to terms with, especially when it involves children. When looking through my viewfinder I’m able to compartmentalize my emotions and put them to one side, so I can search the frame for the images I want, but those emotions come back to haunt you at a later date, and there’s always a price to pay.

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The pictures were shot on my Nikon D3, the three lenses I took were a Nikon AF 24mm f/2.8D, a Nikon AF-S 50mm f/1.8G and a Nikon AF-S 85mm f/1.8G. Editing was done using Lightroom, Photoshop and Silver Efex Pro.

My Nikon gear worked impeccably, but it did require a few hours of careful cleaning on occasions. According to the World Health Organization, Delhi is the most polluted city in the world, and the dust and dirt manages to get everywhere. The only other issue I had was the rear lcd, it was so bright in India I couldn’t see anything on the back of my D3. Even in shade you couldn’t see much because your eyes had adjusted to the extreme brightness, it felt a bit like using film and trusting your ability to get exposures and focus right.

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Which equipment to take is a very personal choice, I don’t mind the weight of my D3, lenses etc in my shoulder bag. When I’m taking pictures I forget about the weight, but you do feel the strain afterwards. I took a couple of bags to India, a Tamrac pro which carries all my gear, and a Lowepro event messenger which came in very handy for photographic gear, and as a basic messenger bag. I was expecting problems at airport security in the UK and India, but actually it was really easy, and beyond a standard machine scan no one asked to look at the contents. A word of warning though, read carefully the size and weight restrictions regarding cabin luggage. Each airline has their own weird restrictions, my Tamrac bag was too wide for several airlines yet fine for others.

Thank you for taking the time to read and look at the images. Feel free to comment or to ask me any questions you might have about India, equipment etc.


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