Posts Tagged ‘B&W’

Born a criminal?

In Denotified Tribes, DNT, Documentary work, India, Uncategorized on May 22, 2017 at 3:11 pm



A baby born to a community living under a highway overpass in Mumbai

How could someone be born a criminal? I thought in the eyes of god we are all created equal or in America we are all created equal. The point is that there are many places that in politics, religion and government they speak of being born equal. Meaning that we all have the same rights and opportunities as one another. The truth is in fact far from that. For the last few years I’ve been working on a project in India that centers around what is called the Denotified and Criminal tribes. Basically this is a large group of nomadic tribes that have been living within the borders of India for hundreds of years if not longer.

Children play while living under a highway overpass in Mumbai

In 1871, the British colonial government enacted the “Criminal Tribes Act” to control supposedly ‘criminal’ communities. Despite the Act’s repeal in 1952 – five years after India gained her independence – these communities continue to have their livelihoods and dignity stripped away. Today they are like ghosts in their own country. Most live on the fringes of society in temporary encampments and extreme poverty. Without permanent housing, they lack official identity and cannot access vital social services or even cast their votes. Education becomes a luxury when children are needed to earn money for the family. Caught in cycles of intergenerational prostitution, a lack of education, and a fear of authority, these once proud communities are amongst India’s most dispossessed.

Saddest of all is that there are many generations born into this world with no idea how or why they are living the way they are. Only that this is there life. #thebirthlottery

Many of these people come from tribes that were made up of artists, musicians, puppeteers and the like. Few are able to practice their crafts these days but the ones that still are have managed to hang on to wonderful skills from the past.


A puppeteer from the Bhat community

Three albino brothers in Delhi, India

Two people sleep on the roof of a building surrounded by a DNT community.

A DNT family in Solapur.


Just Hanging Around (don’t judge a book by its cover)

In Documentary work, Suspension on May 28, 2014 at 4:11 pm

A few weeks ago a new friend asked me if I would like to accompany her deep into the heart of Long Island as she was doing an article on a young man who would be suspending in the backyard on some kind of trapeze like contraption. Why of course I said and can I shoot it? Since she was the writer of this little piece she needed to ask the client and they agreed.

Truth be known I’ve been curious about this kind of thing for some time but since I don’t run or swing in those circles I was not sure how or when the opportunity would arise. However like many things if you are patient and live long enough they sometimes will show themselves to you. I rented a Zip car (no free plug for them with a hyper link) and the use of a great little navigation app called Waze that has never let me down before we headed out.

I picked up the car around 3pm (riveting info I know) and started to drive. She the writer (alex Mar) told me it would take about 1.5 hours to get there. Funny since it was only about 20 miles but that’s how it works in NYC during rush hour. I guess Long Island is a hot destination for working folk at the end of the day. Waze had us on and then off the highway and then back on again all with the goal of saving us time. Of course there is no way to know if we did save time but we did seem to jump a few cars on the journey.

When we finally showed up at the house it was as unassuming as any little bungalow could be. Perfectly manicured lawn, nice fence, the whole deal. Seemed like the perfect place for a murderer to come from. Sorry to disappoint!

I set about setting up the shot that I had imagined in my head. A very dramatic black duvetyne as a backdrop and one Octabank light. The problem was that the wind was causing some issues so I had to pull down the duvee (that’s what we call it in the business) Not to worry since I managed to put it up again against the garage so it had no place to go.

We went inside and Cer was beginning to prep the suspender Emmanuel. This required an alcohol swab of his back in the area that the poles would be thrust through his skin to support him while he swung back and forth.

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Emmanuel laid down on the massage table and Cer squeezed some flesh and then with a mighty push he punctured the skin, in one area and out the other. I did not even hear a peep from Emmanuel. What a tough guy I thought. He did the same on the other side of his back just below his shoulders and then hooked up some kind of clamp so the ropes would have something to connect to.

That was it really. Did it look gross? not really gross more like this is odd and why would someone do this to themselves.

We walked outside and I asked Emmanuel to do some portraits. I wanted to get some shots of him before the blood would (might) come out and his skin would be pulled from the weight of his own body. He obliged and I got some cool dramatic shots.

Speaking of drama, these guys are were so sweet and nice that it was hard to see the drama here. I was expecting tough MOFO’s but honestly they could not have been nicer. I hope that does not wreck their street creed but they were cool. Other than the gapping holes in their ears and all the ink and pierced nipples and who knows what else they were totally normal.

Here are a few images from the shoot, hope you like them as always please do not copy or steal. All images ©davidgoldmanphoto.com

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