Gareth Kingdon’s Hidden Cities

 
What looks like a spacious room is actually a cramped workshop that produces dresses for a high-end market. Photograph/Gareth Kingdon

What looks like a spacious room is actually a cramped workshop that produces dresses for a high-end market. Photograph/Gareth Kingdon

Gareth Kingdon explores the slums of Dharavi and discovers that entire ecosystems thrive within the confines of these tinder box houses. 

This article was originally published in July 2014.

"This project is my endeavour to bring out the positivity of those living in such harsh and challenging environmental conditions."—Gareth Kingdon

“This project is my endeavour to bring out the positivity of those living in such harsh and challenging environmental conditions.”—Gareth Kingdon

Dharavi is the world’s most densely populated urban neighbourhood with an estimated 1.2 million people crammed into 1 square mile. Situated in the heart of Mumbai, Dharavi has been absorbed by the city. However, since it is a prime location that is close to offices, parks and commuter railway lines, it appears doomed to be demolished and turned into middle-class apartment blocks.

These 360° panoramic photographs are an attempt to share the lives of people living in the slums. Each image is constructed by using 20 individual frames, making the actions of subjects more prominent and self explanatory.
The use of the expanded image format is an attempt at challenging the stereotypical notion of a slum. Usually, when one thinks of a slum, one thinks of overcrowding, illness, sanitation issues and marginalised communities.

However, there are entire ecosystems that can thrive within a slum. It virtually functions as a city within a city—a hidden city of sorts. This project is my endeavour to bring out the positivity of those living in such harsh and challenging environmental conditions.

My greatest desire is that Western viewers belonging to developed nations, look upon the lives of slum dwellers and realise that in this global neighbourhood, the residents of the slum are just like everyone else. Instead of focusing on the great differences between the two worlds, people need to highlight their togetherness and desire to work as one combined culture.

This is a typical grocery store in Dharavi. Every morning, a lorry struggles down the narrow road to deliver fresh produce to the shop. Photograph/Gareth Kingdon

This is a typical grocery store in Dharavi. Every morning, a lorry struggles down the narrow road to deliver fresh produce to the shop. Photograph/Gareth Kingdon

A Few Things to Remember While Shooting Panoramas in Cramped Spaces

  • Make it a practice to overlap consecutive frames. This will help you edit your work more efficiently and will also make sure that you do not end up losing minute details.
  • Use the Manual mode and use Custom White Balance. Doing this will prevent the metering system from automatically adjusting the exposure and spoiling the continuity of the panorama.
  • Try using a hot shoe spirit level to avoid problems like skewed orientation. This will help you obtain straight horizon lines, while shooting indoors. Shoot around 20 images. It is better to stay on the safer side and stitch the images at leisure.
Dharavi is off the municipal map. Due to this local groups and NGOs run schools in Dharavi. Photograph/Gareth Kingdon

Dharavi is off the municipal map. Due to this local groups and NGOs run schools in Dharavi. Photograph/Gareth Kingdon

About Gareth Kingdon
Gareth Kingdon is a documentary photographer with a strong passion for African and Indian communities including townships and slums.

To view more such images and Kingdon’s other works, log on to www.garethkingdonphotography.com

 

Tags: better photography, Cramped Spaces, Dharavi, documentary photography, Gareth Kingdon, Hidden Cities, india, January 2012, Largest Slum Mumbai, Mumbai, panoramas, Photofeature, Slum