The day started like they all do, with us gathered in the classroom, in the dark, looking at all of the brilliant images these guys shot yesterday. Their exposures are coming into line, they are more comfortable with their cameras, and they are really starting to make interesting creative decisions. You can see, from the images of today, that they are well on their way. But, as they say, “the only easy day was yesterday.” Today we were on location and we had to work on our first project off campus with important narrative parameters. Here’s where the skills we’ve learned get put to the test and the story of Gandhi Ji Fred told on the first day becomes real. Today, our students began to tell stories and express themselves with their new voice.
One of the programs initiated by the Aga Khan Foundation in Hyderabad is the restoration of a local treasure: the Qutb Shahi Tombs. Today, our students took their skills out for the first real test, and they didn’t disappoint. After a long critique, a quick morning session, and an early lunch, we headed out to this historic site in the early afternoon sun. The location was hot and dusty and the stone-workers hammers and grinders were loud. At the entrance to the tombs, fruit and vegetable vendors lounged in the shade of ancient trees while visitors strolled through the shaded grounds. Couples sat on benches looking over the dome topped tombs of the 16th and 17th century rulers of Hyderabad. Our job however wasn’t to take in the tranquil setting or enjoy the history, ours was to tell the story of a massive restoration project that employed scores of trained stone-workers and builders. The project is using updated historical techniques in order to recondition the grounds of the tombs including several large two-storey tombs, several smaller single storey tombs and a massive step well and rainwater collection system. We were able to photograph the story from the very beginning of the rebuilding process to the finished detail work. After several hours in the sun, we headed back to the class to perform our daily ritual: download, edit, and backup. It’s been a long day, we’re already late for dinner and we have an early morning tomorrow so we’re going to try to wrap up, but have a look at what we did and see if you can’t imagine the bustle and the workmen’s hammers.