There is a cool calmness to the mornings here that belies the adventure we’re surely going to have today. Since our arrival, we’ve started each morning with a walk from the guest residences to the canteen at around 6:45/7am. The sun is just over the horizon and the dry air is just on the warm side of perfect. Everything is quiet and while the peacocks stroll aimlessly through the dusty orange light of early morning, the only clear sound is the back and forth call of a pair of birds. We started our day today with a general soothing desert calm, an aura that can only be described as resembling the feeling of waking slowly from a long comfortable sleep…which is the perfect way to slowly ease into our busy day. After a breakfast at the canteen of omelettes, curry, sambal, and roti, we’re scheduled to head out to visit the 35 sites planned for the day!
The goal of our second day of Reccy is to solidify the remaining stories. For most of our workshops, our students explore 6-10 stories throughout the week. This time, we are limiting the two groups of students to just three: The Effects of the Urbanization of Hyderabad, Footsoldiers of Hyderabad, and Hands. Our advanced students will tackle the first two while our beginners will explore the topic of Hands. So today we zipped hither and thither around to vet the businesses, locations, and facilities of our potential subjects.
The first story we scouted today is the second option for the advanced students. Our task is to profile a group women who serve as community volunteers, affectionately called the Footsoldiers. These women, who rarely get much attention, work in modest government sponsored centers and focus on early childhood education and postnatal care. To say the very least, these women are a force for good in their neighborhoods!
The second half of today was spent working on the locations for our beginning class. For this, we visited more than a dozen artisans whose craft is their livelihood. To list just a few there were tinsmiths and biryani makers (traditional Hyderabadi rice dishes), bengal makers and tea shops, even embroiderers and gem cutters! There is a huge variety of craftsman who make up the local economy that our students will visit. Many of the shops are cramped, absolutely chock-full of equipment and products…but also so full of visual potential it left us instructors itching to get at them. The beginners are going to have a great time photographing next week, we can’t wait to explore these environments with them!
After a long day of reconnaissance and a lot of brainstorming, we decided to make a last minute change in the plan. Since the majority of the action at our scouted locations happens early in the morning…and the fact that it gets so HOT in the afternoon…we decided to photograph first thing tomorrow morning! However, this was no easy switch. In order to do this, our students needed to be prepared and equipped for our shoot tomorrow morning. So, agreeing this was our best option, we called everyone in for a 2 hour session tonight and all crammed for our assignments tomorrow! It was a good first session with a quick review of camera and storytelling techniques as well as an intro to the stories themselves. Afterwards we all grabbed a quick dinner and headed home for a short night of sleep. We’re leaving early tomorrow morning for our first shoot…another day of adventure awaits!