Back in March I was commissioned by the Telegraph's 'Create' department, which works on advertorial projects, to shoot some images in India and Scotland for the International Day of Street Children. The event is supported by Aviva and organized by the Consortium for Street Children and the Telegraph's role was to produce content for web and print leading up the the event to raise awareness of the day and the work of the Consortium's partner NGOs running projects in the field.
There were a lot of people at the initial meeting and my first thought was that this could become a classic case of being pulled in too many directions but it didn't work out like that. There were concerns about how to apply child protection and informed consent policies developed mainly for the UK to the situations we were likely to find in India but these were addressed. My brief was distilled down to: Get the strongest images you can - always a good motivator.
In Delhi we met Deepchand, one of the city's estimated 100,000 street children. He and his gang became the focus of a lot of my work and the writer, Gill Martin, did brilliant work interviewing the kids, gently encouraging and allowing them to tell us about their lives. We had barely enough time to scratch the surface so it's lucky we found some children we could spend some time with and get to know, rather than shooting from the hip and never getting beyond the generalities.
To photograph Deepchand and his friends I had to walk barely 200m from the hotel where we were staying. In those 200 meters I went from a luxurious bedroom to a patch of earth under a tree, from clean sheets to an old mail sack. The contrast was uncomfortable of course, it should be, and infuriating, and deeply unjust.
I went to find the group early one morning so that I could photograph their work 'rag-picking', looking for rubbish that could be sold to scrap merchants. After about 3 hours of trailing around the area the group met up near a tea-seller who was packing up his stall. In return for carrying his heavy pots and pans home the kids negotiated a meagre breakfast, sweet tea and a small biscuit. One of the kids passed a cup to me, happy to share what they had. We sat and ate and then carried on with the day's routine. The tea seemed symbolic, these kids have absolutely nothing and yet they worked to buy me tea.
Scotland was always going to be very different but as in India we were surprised by the eloquence of the kids we met. I had much less to shoot and was more restricted but I'm still really pleased with the images and very grateful to those who helped us with access and those who agreed to be photographed.
The coverage is running in the Telegraph over the next few days and online.