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February 25th, 2009

Ed Kashi: Travels in India 3

Posted by Ed Kashi

In his last entry, Ed talked about his struggle to balance work and family life. Here he talks about the National Geographic Photo Camp he taught in India and the continued importance of teaching to his passion for photography.
National Geographic Photo Camp in Rajasthan. A city kid photographs a cow.

At the National Geographic Photo Camp that Ed taught in Rajasthan, a "city kid" photographs a cow. © Ed Kashi


We’re in Jhadol, a small village nearly two hours drive outside of Udaipur to teach 20 teenagers, 10 from the city of Udaipur and 10 from the villages of this area. This is one of several National Geographic Photo Camps, which use photography and visual storytelling to foster cultural exchange and to open new vistas of awareness for these kids. The goal is not to create photographers, although that would be lovely. Instead, we are trying to empower these young people to tell the stories of their lives, communities, and families, thereby opening their eyes to their own world while sharing their vital and meaningful stories with outsiders.

I believe strongly in the power of photography to teach, to raise awareness, and to intimately and dramatically bring to life our stories, our issues, and our subconscious concerns. I have witnessed this power in countless situations, including refugee camps in Uganda, rural villages of Oaxaca, Mexico, the Latino district of San Francisco, and the South Bronx. These are the other National Geographic photo camps I’ve been a part of, but beyond this one set of experiences, I’ve been reminded repeatedly that photography has an uncanny, unique power to inspire, to prick the questioning mind, to discover beauty, and to express the intimate and personal.

It is this nexus of passion for, belief in, and commitment to the unique universe of visual storytelling that compels me to keep on driving forward, moving against the current odds, the dire predictions and blatant economic and structural trends. I cannot stop, nor do I believe I should. There is a usefulness, potency, and necessity to photography.

Showing my work from the Niger Delta to teens in the south Bronx or a village in India elicits the same response: indignation, surprise, and horror at the social, economic and environmental injustices of that story. These reactions exemplify the universal language of photography and the power of what I can achieve with my work.

Be Part of the RESOLUTION: How have you experienced the power of photography to empower people? Has teaching ever reinforced your own passion for photography?


  1. March 30th, 2009 at 8:05 pm


    Love what you’re doing here. I had the opportunity to go to Uganda and do classes for kids living in the IDP camps alongside those doing counseling for those who had been taken as child soldiers. It was such a powerful experience and I really hope to be back again some day to do it on a long(er)-term basis.

  2. March 31st, 2009 at 6:04 am

    ed kashi


    it was incredible doing the Uganda photo camp, but we learned how presumptuous it was to go in, show them cameras for a few days and then pull out and leave nothing but CD’s and prints behind. I guess it’s better than nothing, but we learned so much from that experience on how to prepare and leave behind something more sustainable.

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