Bindi Sheth, India
Photographers are curious about everything. It helps us understand life, relationships, people, and emotions amongst many other things.
Photography is a slice of someone’s life that the photographer presents to the viewer. It allows us to show the world what we sensed and felt and at the same time, leaves room for interpretation. We have access to spaces where privacy is guarded and treasured, where stories need to be told and heard. “Like us” for Prabhat Education Foundation was one such project. It gave me access to a space that I might never have ended up in. Shooting for Prabhat has brought out all the emotions that I house. Unfortunately, dire living conditions, poverty and poor health indices seem to go hand-in-hand. This project has been very close to my heart. I have had the opportunity to present to the viewers a glimpse of a world which they might never be exposed to. A world not very far and yet devastatingly different.
As photographers we are told not to get involved, just observe, shoot and leave but that was impossible while shooting for Prabhat. I often found myself wondering what the children and their parents thought, felt and how they see the world.
In a world where love and trust are scare, Prabhat has been able to create a secure and secular environment against all odds. Prabhat is walking into lives that are less fortunate and brings welfare, trust and hope into the ignored of our city.
Though these kids are considered “special,” I now know that their laughter, smiles, fears, tears, joy and pain are just ‘LIKE US.’
Bindi Sheth’s tryst with photography began in the late 1980s when she moved to Ahmedabad from Mumbai to study photography under renowned architect-photographer Dinesh Mehta. Feeling lost in a new city and culture, she picked up her family’s old SLR camera and started observing life from behind its focused lens. Shy of interacting but wanting to understand this city and its people better, Bindi’s camera became her voice, quietly observing and documenting people’s intense engagement with life. From among the many series that she has shot over the past two-and-a-half decades, those that most deeply resonate in Bindi’s heart are her continuing series on the contemporary artists of India; the documentation of the Bene Israeli Jewish community of Ahmedabad, patients in a 1960’s physiotherapy centre called ‘Pritam Nagar no Akhado’; a series called “Loyal Exports” where she has documented the work of Austrian ceramicist Mattias Kaiser, as used in urban and rural Gujarati households; and her work with Prabhat Education Foundation, which she says has particularly challenged her perceptions about love, care and trust. Her photobook for Prabhat, “Like Us” was published in 2019.