Wednesday, 2 September 2009

My Work: The Street Barbers of Manali

Photo © Tewfic El-Sawy-All Rights Reserved

The gestation period for The Street Barbers of Manali was remarkably short...certainly the shortest for any of my projects. Walking through the streets of Manali with Yasin Dar (a conflict photographer and photojournalist based in Kashmir), we came about the barbers who had set up a sort of shack near the Peace Cafe...a Tibetan coffeehouse and restaurant that offers an extraordinary muesli with fruits and yogurt.

As Yasin chose one of the barbers for his multimedia piece which would be eventually presented at the Foundry Photojournalism Workshop, we photographed alongside each other for about an hour. It was quite an experience to see the various angles we each chose...distinct from each other, but eventually telling the same story.

The street barbers in this area of Manali make about 20 rupees per client, and while they seemed to have a thriving business, their net take-home cannot be more than $5 taking into account whatever they have to pay (rent, protection money, etc) for the choice spot on a well trafficked street.