When I go on field visits, I get to observe tribal culture and customs in a way that never comes across in my photographs. That's because my personal "code of ethics" regarding photography is fairly strict; I don't often take pictures of the villagers for fear of offending them and using them for my own gains without giving anything back.
The SPREAD staff, however, are in a different position. They speak the language of the villagers, they've built rapport and gained trust, and the villagers can specify how the staff member has helped them (hopefully!). Thus, the following photographs, taken by my coworkers, can do what mine cannot -- give you a glimpse into what I see when I visit the field.
First, the tribal women. Each tribe has certain jewelry, clothing and/or tattoos that signify their tribe.
(The camera is not part of her tribe's accessories, but it looks cool!)
The tribal men often wear Western-style shirts and just a wrapped cloth around their hips instead of pants.
ALL Indians have the ability to squat for hours on end. With their feet flat on the ground, it's not uncomfortable for them at all and is their preferred position of rest.
This picture of villagers waiting to pick up their subsidized rice shows a few interesting things. First, see how tightly they're packed into that line! This was taken in May, so it was likely more than 100 degrees. Second, see how there is a line for men and a line for women.
This picture is the best one I have that shows what typical village looks like.
All around Koraput, you can see women carrying jugs of water on their heads. They start practicing when they're little girls, with small cups of water. It's cute and sad.
This picture is interesting to me because it shows the reality of the village kids. They take awhile to warm up and start smiling and laughing and sometimes never do. Oftentimes, they're just confused about strangers coming to their village. Also, Indians don't usually smile for photographs, so smiles are more common in candid shots.
A village meeting will either take place on the cement platform that is in almost every village for just this purpose or in the school. A meeting is a good chance to see the Indians' different definition of "personal space". They crowd into the space even if there is plenty of room, very interesting.
Having the chance these past 2 years to spend time with these people, even just in observation, has been amazing. Thanks to my coworkers, I now have some better pictures to remember it by!