In Calcutta's red light district, over 7,000 women and girls work as prostitutes. Only one group has a lower standing: their children. Zana Briski became involved in the lives of these children in 1998 when she first began photographing prostitutes in Calcutta. Living in the brothels for months at a time, she quickly developed a relationship with many of the kids who, often terrorized and abused, were drawn to the rare human companionship she offered.
Fascinated by her camera, Zana thought it would be great to see the world through their eyes. It was at that moment that she had the idea of teaching photography to the children of prostitutes.
To do so would involve overcoming nearly insurmountable obstacles – brothel owners, pimps, police, local politicians, and organized crime syndicate.
Zana held weekly photography workshops between 2000 and 2003. There the children learned camera basics, lighting, composition, the development of point-of-view, editing, and sequencing for narrative. To Zana's delight, equipped with inexpensive point-and-shoot 35mm cameras, the children produced incredible work. Their images are explosions of color: self-portraits, family pictures, street scenes, stunning tableaus of Bengali life.
In order to help more children from Calcutta's red-light district, Kids with Cameras has been raising money to develop a safe home specifically for the children of prostitutes to provide an opportunity for them to learn, thrive and lead future generations.
» Update on the Kids of Calcutta