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Thursday, 12 April 2012

Portraits for Nepal by Solveig Boergen

Imagine never seeing a photograph of yourself.  Never holding a print in your hand.  Never experiencing the joy that photography brings.  For many people this is their reality, but Solveig Boergen is changing that, one portrait at a time.

Where are you from?
Originally, I am from Bonn, Germany but have been in Asia for over 20 years. I spent a lot of time in China in the late 80s, then moved to Japan in 1991 where I lived until a few days after the March11 2011 earthquake.  We then moved to Thailand for a year and 10 days ago, we moved to the small city of Pokhara in Nepal.
Why did you move to Nepal?  
We will be here for one year due to my husbands research for his university in Japan.
Where did your idea for these portraits come from? 
Last year, when Bangkok was threatened by flooding we came to Nepal and spent a month here. On our first day here, I wandered around with my camera and big white lens and was asked by a mom to take her picture as she did not have a photo of her and her baby. This made me think- we were in a city near Kathmandu, where people have much more than in the countryside. If the families here do not have portraits, what about the folks in the countryside then? So, my idea was born -I wanted to use my time here to give portraits to as many families as I can.

What is your typical day like when you are shooting?
I hire a car with a driver to take me to places where no foreigners or tourists usually go. Really really countryside and often only accessible by hiking up the mountains. We go as far as the car can take us and from there we hike to reach far away villages. My driver explains in Nepali that I want to give portraits and we start going around the houses and people come to us.  The news of us gets around really quickly and sometimes people run down the hill to catch us and have their portraits taken.
Once I am back in our guesthouse, I edit the pictures and have them developed at a local professional lab.  Sometimes, I am able to have a bigger image framed to deliver it, but most of the time, I will deliver portrait prints in 5x7 or 8x10.  My goal is to be able to give each family a bigger framed portrait to display in their home, but I will need donations to be able to do that. The portraits are then delivered by either me or someone else as mail delivery is not really possible here.
What are the conditions like for the families that you photograph? Most of the families that I photograph are very, very poor, they are farmers and live in small villages, where water has to be collected and electric power is not available. Often, the men of the family are working abroad to make money and the women are alone with their children. 

What else are you doing in Nepal?
At the moment, I am concentrating on photographing our experiences here in Nepal. I want to travel as much as I can and see as much as possible of this beautiful country that is our home for one year.

 If you'd like to see more beautiful images or are interested in more information on Portraits for Nepal, please visit the facebook page

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