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People ShowcaseView of a Brickworks in West Bengal

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Graham Smith
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View of a Brickworks in West Bengal

Post by Graham Smith » Mon Mar 19, 2018 6:06 pm

002-IND_1859.jpg
Brickworks in India

You will seldom be far away from a brickworks in India. The majority are local works supplying the surrounding communities.

My understanding of brickworks in India was that, besides pumping huge amounts of pollution out through their chimneys, they were notoriously bad employers. They employed women and children, often indentured so they couldn't move on, paying them wages that were barely enough to buy food to survive. They were literally slaves working from dawn to dusk with absolutely no rights or protection and because of the dust from the bricks and the kilns lung disease was common.

We were driven to a remote village to attend a sports day organised to promote co-operation between villages on various welfare projects.

When we arrived I spotted a brickworks only about a five-minute walk from the event. I decided that when there was a lull in the sports day proceedings I would wander down to the brickworks. I had heard that visitors to these works were sometimes met with hostility. I decided to wander to the works on a track that went to the next village passing through the works.

When I first arrived at the works I saw three women standing on a mound of clay with a group of women gathered around them, it looked as though it was a union meeting or similar.

Obviously, I soon attracted attention from the workers so I stopped, camera in hand, for a minute or two, to gauge their reaction to me. I needn't have worried because all I got was friendly waves. I made a few exposures so that there could be no doubt what my intentions were. A group of men, who were working on the opposite side of the road to the kilns and were loading sun-dried bricks onto hammock affairs strung on bicycles beckoned me over. I greeted them with my few words of Bengali, it was smiles, laughter and handshakes all round. In the way that I've become accustomed to in India, they were asking me to photograph them. I took a few snaps, showed them to them on the LCD.
Then I had to be going because I was needed for more pictures of the sports day.

There was a break for lunch in proceedings, I knew it wouldn't be a hurried affair, it isn't the Indian way to hurry food, I strolled back to the brickworks. The workers were waving and laughing again so I made my way down to the kilns. The women almost mobbed me wanting pictures taken. they demonstrated to me their brick carrying prowess, each one wanting to prove that they could carry more bricks than the next woman. It was an absolute joy, so far from what I had expected when I first headed down there.

The women were working on broken brick rubble in their bare feet balancing a huge weight of bricks on their heads. I would have liked to have stayed longer, but, once again I had to get back to the sports day.

My overall impression was that all the workers, both men and women were quite happy in their work and they were clean and well dressed, they seemed to stop and chat whenever they felt inclined, there was no obvious pressure on them. Thank God there were no child workers there.

I will add more pictures to this thread.
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Post by minniev » Mon Mar 19, 2018 8:00 pm

Thank you as much for the story as for the image, which is composed just as masterfully as your Scotland images. It is an image that might have been made a century ago or more if you'd turnt it into monochrome. It appears that the art of brickmaking has been a stable technology for a while. Great shooting angle, wonderful detail, will watch for more to be added.
"God gave me photography so that I could pray with my eyes" - Dewitt Jones

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Graham Smith
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Post by Graham Smith » Thu Mar 22, 2018 1:01 pm

This is the women gathering for a meeting, they were all laughing and smiling so I don't think it was anything too serious, my Bengali isn't up to asking them :)
003-IND_1860.jpg
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Post by minniev » Sun Mar 25, 2018 9:50 pm

Graham Smith wrote:
Thu Mar 22, 2018 1:01 pm
This is the women gathering for a meeting, they were all laughing and smiling so I don't think it was anything too serious, my Bengali isn't up to asking them :)

003-IND_1860.jpg
Another great image, with all its color and culture displayed against a fine composition.

I know you would want to keep the color, but did you do any of these in monochrome? They look like scenes from another century.
"God gave me photography so that I could pray with my eyes" - Dewitt Jones

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Post by Graham Smith » Mon Mar 26, 2018 7:41 pm

Another great image, with all its color and culture displayed against a fine composition.

I know you would want to keep the color, but did you do any of these in monochrome? They look like scenes from another century.
Thanks, Minnie, they don't work too well in b&w and, as you can imagine, I have tried :)

Carrying the sun-dried bricks to the kiln.
007-IND_1893.jpg
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Post by minniev » Mon Mar 26, 2018 8:32 pm

Graham Smith wrote:
Mon Mar 26, 2018 7:41 pm
Another great image, with all its color and culture displayed against a fine composition.

I know you would want to keep the color, but did you do any of these in monochrome? They look like scenes from another century.
Thanks, Minnie, they don't work too well in b&w and, as you can imagine, I have tried :)

Carrying the sun-dried bricks to the kiln.
007-IND_1893.jpg
Again, wonderful color, expression and detail. Their exuberance is contagious.
"God gave me photography so that I could pray with my eyes" - Dewitt Jones

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Post by PietFrancke » Mon Mar 26, 2018 9:44 pm

love the color and the backstory (story reminds me of coal minors in my neck of the woods). The willingness to be a hard worker can often be taken advantage of.

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Post by St3v3M » Mon Apr 02, 2018 6:05 am

You should start a blog! Fascinating, just fascinating! S-
"Take photographs, leave footprints, steal hearts"

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