The slums of Mumbai (Commission with Magic Bus)


 

In early 2017 I worked pro-bono with Magic Bus, one of the largest NGOs in India to shoot an image library for use in promotional materials, websites and social media that told the stories of the lives they change each day. Magic bus uses activity-based programs to break the cycle of generational poverty and guide children from ‘Childhood to Livelihood.’

I lived in Mumbai for 2 months visiting rural and urban communities, documenting the day-to-day lives of their inhabitants. The goal was not to shoot ‘hero images’ but to shoot a narrative that shows the environment and living conditions that people have to endure each day. The challenge was not to provide a one sided, pre-determined account of what life was like in these communities, but to document what I saw and tell that story.

This type of work can be hugely rewarding but also a conflict in itself. Had I not been affiliated with the NGO and not providing images that would be used to benefit the communities I was shooting in in some small way, I couldn’t have justified being there.   

What the photographs don’t and can’t show from the outset are the stories behind the people that feature in them. Countless accounts of violent domestic abuse, drug and alcohol issues, religious intolerance and disease alongside the frequent demolition of illegal dwellings create a resilience in the people, an acceptance of change in a dangerous environment.