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Arunima Maharshi

IWB Blogger

#InstaDiscovery: Photographer Sara Hylton Is Currently Capturing Stories Of Women And Conflict In India

  • IWB Post
  •  July 8, 2019

Gone are the days when people accessed social media with the only purpose of keeping in touch with family and friends. Today, Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, these platforms have become open spaces to connect with people from all over the world – artists, chefs, writers, activists, travellers, designers, the list goes on.

But the focus here isn’t on the advantages of social media – what has already not been said about the pros and cons of its existence. I’m here to tell you about IWB’s recent hashtag coinage, ‘Insta-discovery’, and a little about the idea behind.

On a personal level, Instagram has helped me explore the creative ways of sharing content through visuals and words, and also in finding and interacting with both like-minded and diversely talented people. Remember I introduced to you Cartoonist Gemma Correll’s Insta gallery the other day? Today’s #InstaFind is – Photographer Sara Hylton.

Sara Hylton is a freelance photographer, and her work primarily focuses on women, conflict, and underrepresented voices. Originally from Canada, Sara believes in living a ‘being on the move’ life, and she has picked India to be her present home and work ground. As her Instagram posts read, she was in Delhi earlier this year, and currently her bio reads “On the move”. Interesting, isn’t it?

A post-graduate in Photojournalism and Documentary Photography, Sara also holds a Master of Arts in International Conflict Studies from Kings College London, and has worked with National Geographic and many top-notch media houses – the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, Harper’s Magazine, Vogue Magazine, the Financial Times Magazine, to name a few. And her website tells us that it is the quiet beauty in everyday life that guides her work and the stories she covers.

This is what I love about this job, meeting people like Shanta (center), people on the the righteous path, people who light up all those who come into their orbit. In her sixties and a self proclaimed “humanist” Shanta doesn’t have time to complain or emit any negativity, despite a corrupt government that has somehow misplaced millions in the rebuilding of Nepal. No. Shanta is too busy changing the lives of women, for her lifetime goal is gender equality. Among many things, Shanta and her organization, Beyond Beijing Committee, have helped to make abortion safe and free for women across #Nepal. Shanta has also designed reusable sanitary pads for women in earthquake affected zones. This is the good stuff, right here. Thanks to @globalfundwomen for entrusting me with this wonderful assignment.

213 Likes, 17 Comments – Sara Hylton (@sarahyltonphoto) on Instagram: “This is what I love about this job, meeting people like Shanta (center), people on the the…”

The various projects that she has worked on so far in India include, ‘Women of God’ and ‘A Temporary Home’; and you ought to see her recent work on the life of hijras, available at hashtags #theLOOKNYT and #hijras.

WOMEN OF GOD 

Extremely grateful to share this latest edit on Dalit women in South Asia in @natgeo.media. Though I cannot read traditional Chinese, my brother Yen Yin did a beautiful job and took the time to understand and portray this complex issue with care and depth. In this image: Hasina, 63, and her grandsons are Muslims living among Hindu Dalits in Panipat, Haryana, a village located directly next to the highway. Hasina’s husband lost his sight due to old age, “whether he is blind or not, I still have to do all the work,” she says of her husband. Link to full story in my profile. #natgeo #southasia #untouchables #dalitwomen

172 Likes, 8 Comments – Sara Hylton (@sarahyltonphoto) on Instagram: “Extremely grateful to share this latest edit on Dalit women in South Asia in @natgeo.media. Though…”

I’m humbled to share my first attempt at tackling a written + image piece for News Deeply on #Dalit #women in #india. This was such a beautiful and heart wrenching project that will continue to unfold for many years to come. Link to the story is in my bio 🙏🏻 Here Megha Kumari, 9 is massaged by her mother and other villagers after she lost feeling in her legs following a seizure. Households in the village of Harijan Mahala in Jharkhand do not receive their full rations of rice due to discrimination, villagers say. Most households in the village have at least one female family member who suffers from anemia.

179 Likes, 13 Comments – Sara Hylton (@sarahyltonphoto) on Instagram: “I’m humbled to share my first attempt at tackling a written + image piece for News Deeply on #Dalit…”

A TEMPORARY HOME 

Very blessed to have been able to travel around and document my favorite country by train. Thank you to @CNN and @pulitzercenter for supporting me to do what I love for a living. Link to the story is in my profile. #CNN #India #indiaphotoproject #indiabyrail #pulitzercenter #reportagespitlight

145 Likes, 14 Comments – Sara Hylton (@sarahyltonphoto) on Instagram: “Very blessed to have been able to travel around and document my favorite country by train. Thank…”

My favorite experience on Indian trains is meeting the many diverse characters trying to make a living, visiting family, or in this case, eunuchs coercing passengers into donations. The journey is certainly the destination. #vivekexpress #everydayasia #everydayindia #somewhereinassam #Assam #eunuch #eastindia

177 Likes, 12 Comments – Sara Hylton (@sarahyltonphoto) on Instagram: “My favorite experience on Indian trains is meeting the many diverse characters trying to make a…”

Her documented work on the HIJRA COMMUNITY

Sharing some new work on India’s third gender community, known as “hijras” in this weekend’s #theLOOKNYT. Thank you to the amazing Jeffrey Gettleman for reporting on this in such a sensitive way and as always, to @lyonse for believing and supporting us photogs to chase that fire. This was one of the most challenging yet rewarding communities I’ve ever worked with. For weeks I felt I was being tested and asked “how much do you really want to know us?” I walked through strange alleyways and showed up at doorsteps several times without taking a single picture, just sitting, waiting, camera in my bag, not knowing whether I’d ever take a single frame. I drank a lot of chai, and had a lot of support from friends (@anushree_fadnavis and @zishaanakbarlatif 🙏🏻). When I finally had my first opportunity to take a picture, my camera broke. This series reminded me of why I got into making pictures in the first place – patience, dedication, intuition. Once this beautiful, complicated, and unique world opened up to me, it was infinite and full of heart. I just scratched the surface and I hope to continue doing more work on this community that continues to live in the shadows of Indian society. Link to the story is in my profile. In this image: Radhika’s (third image) “daughters,” as she affectionately calls them, pose for a portrait near their shared settlement near Mahim train station in #Mumbai, India. The hijra community is hierarchical, such that more experienced and mature hijras act as guardians and superiors to younger #hijras.

1,013 Likes, 55 Comments – Sara Hylton (@sarahyltonphoto) on Instagram: “Sharing some new work on India’s third gender community, known as “hijras” in this weekend’s…”

Rajni, 20, and Puja, 23, from Orissa pose for a portrait while waiting for the train at the Bandra station #thelooknyt #hijra #nytassignment

862 Likes, 23 Comments – Sara Hylton (@sarahyltonphoto) on Instagram: “Rajni, 20, and Puja, 23, from Orissa pose for a portrait while waiting for the train at the Bandra…”

And this was her Women’s Day post. Give the caption a read!

I’ve been grappling with how to post about women’s day. With so much stimuli and black and white platitudes, one can easily get lost in the noise. But then I got quiet and went back to the beginning. Since I was a wee thing, the concept of “woman” and “man” just didn’t sit right with me. I aligned with people who understood the concept of gender and sex as something fluid, something deeply personal, and something of the spirit rather than the physical. I completed a Masters degree looking at how women can be killers in wartime, just as men can. So today, more than any other day, I believe women’s rights equally include men healing the “feminine” sides of themselves and women healing the “masculine” aspects of themselves. In this #metoo era, I have seen so much anger and hatred towards men. This is not a woman vs. man issue and those who think that it is, miss the point entirely. We all need to heal ourselves deeply, wholly, and in an integrated way, and only then, as man, woman, male identifying, female identifying, gender fluid, non-binary, intersex, trans, anything in the middle humans, can we begin to talk about “women’s” rights. #Hyltonout Pictured is Darshani, 41, of the #Balmiki #caste, praying in her home in #Bhapur, #Haryana, India. “I bought the gold I wear for myself…and I own this house.” After two years of physical abuse by her drunken husband, Darshani left towards her mother’s village, took out a loan, and did agriculture work to build her own life and raise her two children. After thirteen years, her husband has pleaded for forgiveness, sobered up and supports their kids in striving for a better future.

841 Likes, 31 Comments – Sara Hylton (@sarahyltonphoto) on Instagram: “I’ve been grappling with how to post about women’s day. With so much stimuli and black and white…”

 

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