Born Into Brothels: Photographs by the Children of Calcutta

Zana Briski, Photographer, The Children of Calcutta, Photographer Umbrage Editions $35 (97p) ISBN 978-1-884167-45-4
Eight children, all raised in brothels in Calcutta's red light district, display their work-colorful photographs of the family members and strangers who populate their lives and of the streets and homes which they inhabit-in this companion volume to the Academy Award nominated documentary Born into Brothels. While the poverty that these children experience is always present in the images, the photographs diverge from the expected sordid scenes; instead they capture a wide variety of moods and circumstances. The images-from a shot of a young girl apathetically stretched out on a car to a sweeping panorama of the rooftops of Calcutta to a close-up self-portrait of an exuberant girl yelling at the camera at dusk-appear impressively professional. The children capture the textures surrounding them beautifully, often with a seemingly intuitive sense of composition. The film the book accompanies follows the story of Briski's attempts to teach photography to these children, who, she says, have ""little possibility of escaping their mother's fate or for creating another type of life,"" and this volume includes writing by both Briski and the film's co-director, as well as stills from the documentary. Demonstrating the way in which photography can be a means of hope and an ""immensely liberating and empowering force,"" the book gives these children, the ""most stigmatized people in Calcutta's red light district,"" a means to share their often ignored perspectives, while also allowing readers a glimpse into the emotional depths of their lives.
Reviewed on: 07/04/2005
Release date: 07/01/2005
Genre: Nonfiction
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