Wednesday, 12 December 2012

Stargazing in Lahore: An Overview

A day before I flew out to Lahore I went to Argos and bought three large boxes of duracell batteries for my cheap second-hand Olympus camera. Although I didn't quite have a plan for what I would being doing in Pakistan for the next three months, I did know that I would be taking a lot of pictures. I have always been interested in photography and the powerful role images can play in challenging views, changing perceptions and facilitating change. Over the last few years I have worked on various writing, art and photography projects all of which have sought to override shallow and reductive representations of certain nations and peoples and go deeper in conveying a sense of shared humanity through emphasizing our similarities over our differences.

Guarding the Fort, 2012. 
Pakistan is currently ranked the fourth most dangerous country in the world - plagued with calamities such as political instability, frequent natural disasters and terrorism. When I first arrived in Lahore I half expected to be met by angry mobs, explosions and hordes of dengue mosquitoes on the prowl. The reality of life (in Lahore at least) was not so dramatic- or menacing! And although my first few weeks had been pretty hard living especially with the constant cuts in power, gas and water, it wasn't half as difficult as I’d imagined it would be. During my three months of working and living in Lahore I discovered a new Pakistan, one which often remains hidden from the public eye. It is a beautiful Pakistan filled with colour, magic and intrigue. Despite all its problems, to me, Pakistan remains one of the most interesting places in the world and I found the people living there to be incredibly resourceful, sincere, generous and spirited. This is what I wanted to capture through my photography. I wanted to take pictures that depicted the true reality of everyday life in the city. I wanted to capture images that told stories and really conveyed the essence of the people I came across. 

What really struck me was the resourcefulness of the people of Lahore, very rarely did I come across someone begging, rather one would always have a service on offer- one man would be selling balloons,  another mending pots on the side road, a few children would gather shoes to shine. The people made the best of what they were given- they worked hard to receive the little they got.

Weigh Yourself, 2012. 
Balloons and Crisps, 2012. 
I also wanted to capture the colour and the mysticism of Lahore, for all the stereotypes perpetuated of Pakistan as a dark, dangerous and violent country, I found the city to be a very colourful place from soft pastels to garish neons, colour was to be found everywhere, on buses, trucks, markets, peoples clothes, decorations, even the graves, this to me reflected the qualities I found in many of the Lahori people I came to meet. A side that presented a certain creativity, humour, playfulness-all very human qualities.

Techni-Colour Truck, 2012
Wazir Khan Masjid, 2012. 
I also wanted to focus on taking pictures of children. I really believe that wherever you go in the world, the children are the same. They love to play and laugh and to cause mischief. I think children are symbolic of truth and purity given the free-spirited nature they possess. Children remind us of how we used to be, back before we became aware of our differences, before we formed ideas and identities rooted in own insecurities and fears. They remind us of simpler times, and I believe if we let them, they can inspire us to recreate those simpler times- that sense of freedom and exploration.
Girls in Bright Colours, 2012. 
On the Banks of the Ravi, 2012.
I plan on going back to Lahore in a few years and setting up a tuition and playcenter for street kids, before that however I'll need to gain more experience and raise some funds! I'm really looking forward to working very hard and seeing my project through in the not so distant future! Anyway I leave you with a song from one of my favourite Lahori musicians, Rahat Fateh Ali Khan.