I Agreed to be Uncomfortable - A Rainy Indian Slum

As a photographer, I find myself living life in a fine balance -- a balance of documenting and experiencing. It truly has become it’s own artform, only with some moments being harder than others. I’m not sure I ever understood what I was signing up for, but somewhere along this photography path I agreed to several things.

I agreed to…

  • Be uncomfortable when I didn’t have to be.

  • Hold hands of as many laughing children as possible.

  • Extent my heart through a metal inanimate object.

  • Drink and eat things offered to me - that were terrifying.

  • Find joy within suffering and capture it. 


So when it came time to revisit a Chennai Slum in the pouring rain, there was never any doubt in my mind. I stepped out of my covered auto rickshaw into ankle deep flood water and went to work capturing the street vendors on the way to the slum. They were covering their shops with tarps and standing close to their neighbor to avoid the rain. 

After walking the line of vendors I took a right onto a small alleyway I had visited once before and I was greeted with familiar little smiles. It was the middle of the day and these girls were not in school, but they know nothing different. Just like when it rains, they are used to getting soaking wet because they’ve never known a life with a warm dry home.

They huddled under their broken umbrella mainly just for fun, but overall they were content being in the pouring rain. I remember reaching to hold their hands and realizing the warm little hands I held the other night were now wrinkled and cold. 

This was...and is not okay.


Again I was trying to find balance within this photographer role as I held those cold little hands. What can I do? What can we do? What can the world do for these children?


I slowly made my way down the main alleyway with thoughts racing through my head. When a little boy came up to me and pointed at my backpack, he was worried my bag was getting too wet. I then noticed how soaking wet I was along with my gear and I just looked at him and shrugged my shoulders - this is what I signed up for.  

With many of the children not having homes they would huddle under metal awnings. 

At one point a family invited me into their home, because again they were worried I was getting too wet. They had Akon blasting on the radio and gave me a plastic chair to sit in...and of course chai tea!

The small room housed a Grandmother, this young couple with a baby and several teenage boys. We laughed as I took photos of the baby and got him to smile really big. This wasn't the first or last house I was invited in, but each one I was greeted with the biggest smiles and warm cups of chai.

The boys were trying to get a paper boat to float!

These were some of my favorite photos as I laughed with the boys and they tried to spin their toy top in the water. 

Again, more wrinkled hands and feet. The boys hands were even worse, reminding me of those times I sat too long in the bathtub as a kid. 


It wasn't until I was headed back past the shop vendors, that I started to realize how uncomfortable I was. I was drenched. My gear was soaked and with zero exaggeration I smelled like a toilet. The difference was that I was headed to put on dry clothes, while those precious little hands and feet would keep soaking in dirty street water.

That made me more uncomfortable then any wet clothes could ever make me feel...and I think that's an okay place to be in. 


So, agree to feel uncomfortable. Even if that's simply to look past the beauty of these photos and examine the reality of them. 


Tips for Camping with Your Dog

Whether you are going camping for leisure or find yourself roughing it in order to get that photograph or journalism piece for work, sometimes camping alone is just that – lonely.


While Fido can’t necessarily carry on a conversation (you can certainly talk to him if you’d like), he can offer company and companionship on your next outdoor adventure. If your pooch has never joined you on a camping trip, check out this infographic so that the two of you are prepared.


Additional Resources:


How do I keep my dog safe while camping?

What if my dog sustains an injury on our trip?

How do I check for ticks on my pet?

Heatstroke and my pup: what do I need to know?


How do I locate dog-friendly campsites?

What are the potential camping-related dangers for my dog?


What packing checklist should I follow?

What should I put in my dog’s first aid kit?

Is a collar or harness best for my dog during our camping trip?

Armed with the right information, you no longer have to camp solo, adding a new layer of fun to an already exciting experience. Leash up and go – your fun time awaits! 

Guest Post Written By: Aurora James with Dog Etiquette.

Feel free to reach out if you want to collaborate or do a guest post!


Parenting in a 5x5 Shack

Can you imagine trying to be a parent in a 5x5 shack? The stresses, fears and doubts that accompany raising a child are already endless. 

The streets in this Indian slum were flooded on my second visit and as I was making my way through the tiny streets I noticed this mother and her child. They were cuddling and laughing, just like any other moment a parent would have. 

She waved me inside her little “home” as I captured the sweet moment and got to say hi to her adorable little boy. As I stepped back out into the pouring rain I wondered if she was blind to her surroundings. She is likely a single mother in this slum and her son at not even a year old, will sleep on a concrete floor constantly exposed to diseases. 

It’s not my hope that by sharing these stories we feel “bad” - but inspired. No matter if it’s just viewing your own life differently, take a moment to reflect and appreciate.

Leave some love below!