workshops were held weekly for two and six months respectively, guest lecturers
with Shahidul Alam of the Drik photographic aging in Bangladesh and Robert
Pledge of Contact Images. They took place in a variety of dirty and cramped
rooms in and around the red-light district, rooms without chairs, tables,
running water, or toilets. There, the children who have grown up in the
routine brutality of the brothels, frequently harassed with slurs "daughter
of a whore," "son of a whore," and accustomed to their own worthlessness,
learned camera basics, lighting, composition, the development of point-of-view,
editing, and sequencing for narrative. They also completed weekly assignments,
and took a number of group photographic junkets.
Briski, who has personally labored to get as many children as possible placed in homes, has all along maintained a very simple objective: to get the kids out of the brothels. This desire, though, counter to the financial interest of many who profit on their exploitation, entails no small risk. Worlds away from the West where kids at similar ages are often given cameras as birthday presents, Briski's students were sometimes beaten for attending her class. But the kids, she says, are counting on her. "I'm very worried about the girls. There's no hope for them, really."
Ms. Briski's work has been supported in part by the Soros Open Society Institute and a donation from photographer Annie Leibowitz. She is looking now for funds that will be used to aid the children.