Lowepro Storyteller Sarah Dawson recently headed to Kolkata, India to teach the art of photography to underserved children.  Below is her story along with some amazing photos taken by Sarah and her students.  Enjoy!

Photo by Sarah Dawson

For the month of November, my day started with boiling hot chai served in a clay cup followed by a walk through India’s busiest train station in Howrah, just outside of Kolkata.

Every day it was the same, dodging rickshaws, buses and cows as I made my way to the school where I was eagerly greeted by 200 outstretched hands from children wishing me good morning.

Photo by Sarah Dawson

A year ago I had decided India was going to be my next country to experience, and I knew I wanted to do a project there.

Photo by Sarah Dawson

Fast forward to fall and I was headed there with a team under the program name “Focus of a Child” to work with marginalized kids in the Bowabazar red light district and Howrah slums.

Photo by Sarah Dawson

Along with two other photographers, I taught an intro to photography using Canon point and shoots; we covered foundation basics for creating images, including composition, rule of thirds, leading lines, color, and shape.

Photos by Sarah Dawson

Over the course of four weeks we had classroom time and then took the kids (ranging from 11-19 years old) on photo-walks through their neighborhood, coaching them through the lessons.

Photo by Sarah Dawson, photographer is carrying a Lowepro Tahoe BP 150

On top  of foundational classes, we also gave them a theme each week to guide their imagery: LOVE, JOY, and PEACE.  We ended our course with a photo exhibition of their work in downtown Kolkata.

Photo by Focus of a Child program students

When we first introduced the idea of the exhibition to the kids they had mixed responses.

Photo by Focus of a Child program students

With this brand new camera in their hands, the idea of someone viewing their work in a gallery in such a short time was terrifying.

Photo by Focus of a Child program students

So for us, it was rewarding to see the process work, to watch the kids go from zero to sixty and see their hidden talents blossom.

Photo by Focus of a Child program students

We got to witness the shift in what they photographed.  From random to inspired, from feeling to creating.  From an idea to seeing.

Photo by Focus of a Child program students

The same kids stood by their work with pride and excitement at the end of the 4 weeks.  Our hardest task by far was selecting only one photo per student, as a lot of the students had an incredible number of images that we could not get over.

Photo by Focus of a Child program students

Now, don’t get me wrong, there were still plenty of selfies and goofy photos with their friends in the mix; these are teenagers after all.  But we really got to witness an awareness beginning to grow.

Photo by Focus of a Child program students

The way they viewed their world had started to change.  What they saw as beautiful was tangible.  What they had created was something they wanted to celebrate.

Focus of a Child photographers Sarah Dawson, Mark Behrens and Steve Batz with program students.

See more photos from my trip to India below.

Photo by Sarah Dawson
Photo by Sarah Dawson – photographer Mark Behrens (left) carrying the Lowepro Streetline BP 250
Photo by Sarah Dawson
Photo by Sarah Dawson
Photo by Sarah Dawson
Photo by Sarah Dawson
Photo by Sarah Dawson
Photo by Sarah Dawson
Photo by Sarah Dawson

The Lowepro Team loved Sarah’s mission of teaching photography to kids in need! We were honored to provide some of our StreetLine BP 250 packs for her journey.

Jessica Medina

About Jessica Medina

Jessica Medina is the WW Marketing Communications Manager for Lowepro. You can reach her at jmedina@daymen.com