A little less than a month ago, I arrived in Karachi, Pakistan for the first time in my life, to take photographs of the community health projects being carried out by Interactive Research and Development (http://irdresearch.org/). While my original plan called for me to be here for just 30 days, I have recently extended my visa and additional photo opportunities are quickly presenting themselves.
There are no end of interesting stories, important social issues, and simple beautiful slices of life to be photographed here and I feel that I am in a great position to do just that. Pakistan is much, much more than the place it gets painted as in the media; through my photographs, I hope to offer some new perspectives. And while I have managed to see through some of the murkiness during the brief period I've been in Karachi, I need to spend more time here and explore more of the city, province, and country. Whether this exploration will mean eventually focusing on the lives of a small fishing community on an island or trying to tie together some overarching project that speaks to the geopolitical importance of this country, I don't yet know. I do feel that whatever body of work I create here will certainly be the best I have yet made, and that it may carry some importance in historical terms - especially to the Pakistanis and possibly to the rest of the world as well. If nothing else, it will result in some pretty pictures.
The method I have used so far is joining up with local organizations who are working on various social programs, community development, and healthcare-related projects. By doing so I have been able to gain access to many places and subjects that I would not have had otherwise. This method has the added benefit of (I believe) helping these organizations further their causes, as I share the photos I take with them. However, in the high-burden, low-resource setting that is pervasive in Pakistan, none of these organizations can pay me for this work. Hence my call for backing. Here is an (almost done) photo-based presentation I have put together for IRD: http://vimeo.com/63544130
To get over here I lived on a shoestring budget in the U.S. for the better part of a year, paid out of pocket for airfare, visas, and plenty of expensive camera gear. For the moment I have a free place to stay in Karachi and the organizations I've been working with have helped keep costs low. But this is not exactly sustainable and therefore I am now "pushing every button" to raise money - entering competitions, looking for commercial work here, applying for small grants, and now launching this Kickstarter.
Any amount is welcome - contributions can be as low as $1. For donations of $30 you can receive email updates with .pdf "contact sheets" of my recent photos, and for $150 or more I am offering a signed print. See the side section on the right for more details. Your funds will be used to cover various costs associated with this project, including travel within Pakistan (don't worry, I'm not going to the Tribal Areas), additional equipment, living expenses, and payment of a translator/fixer when one is necessary. My initial goal of $3,000 will cover my day-to-day existence in Karachi for a couple of months, short visits within the Sindh province, as well as a trip to see Islamabad, Lahore, and potentially to the mountains further north. Any additional capital generated will be used to fund more in-depth explorations of the Northern Areas, where travel is significantly more expensive. Specifically this would entail one or all of the following: visiting the Astore district between Nanga Parbat and Skardu in the Gilgit-Baltistan region, attempting to document the Kalasha culture of Chitral in the Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa province, and trying to gain access to the Kohistani people also in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa. Should any funding be left over, it will be used for what I believe will be the next steps: building a website and self-publishing a photo book with the content I create during my stay in Pakistan.
Here are a few sample images of what I've done over here so far:
Risks and challenges
Security is obviously the main concern when working in Pakistan, but by having a local, trusted, and well-connected translator/fixer/guide with me at all times I am out shooting, I can minimize risks. My own safety as well as cultural sensitivity are priorities that I put in front of "getting the shot."
Security issues aside, the only challenge I face is having the time, energy, and resources to explore, meet more people, and gain access to under-represented populations. The solution to this is a simple formula of time, money, and dedication.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
- (30 days)