The Face In the Face of Crisis

A few years ago I was in Hyderabad, India doing a video project for a company that was having great success in helping local farmers cope with climate change.  I was filming interviews with the young founders and documenting their processes.

I drove around the remote farmlands of Hyderabad for days in search of good b-roll footage to complete the project.  When something caught me eye we’d pull over and I would shoot.  I was searching for the faces and scenes which would tell my story without words or interviews.  Could I get this in one shot? Here is a region of the world that is getting hit amongst the hardest when it comes to climate change.  I wanted to show that in one face, one scene.

We could barely communicate with one another, but it was clear that I was there to take pictures, and wanted to photograph him and his farm.  For me, his face represented the face of the crisis. The land now without moisture or nutrients, the evaporating grow cycle which had shrunk from ten months to seven and the excruciating heat which wreaked havoc upon the crops, the animals, and the people.

This farmer had no idea that he was my chosen face to illustrate our global crisis, but he embodies it wholly.  He lives it daily, and it defines his life much more than it does mine.  Or does it? It was only in my choosing to glimpse into his world that I can now empathize and see it more clearly, and know the toll it takes.  The suicide rate amongst farmers in India is devastating.  Their way of life, which has provided for them through the millennia, has all but disappeared in less than a decade.  They grow the food we eat.  As we continue to choose to tragically ignore the plight of these people, their stories should at least serve to be the canary in the coal mine for the rest of us.