'American West' style portraits of Nepal's youth and homeless children by Sean Alexander Geraghty
When photographer Sean Alexander Geraghty first visited Nepal, it was to teach children how to box as part of a charity initiative. Little did he realise he'd become so interested in documenting their lives that it would become the project it is today.
He contacted schools, organisations, orphanages and local figures to try and build on the series, Children of Nepal, which he felt would show the world the plight of some of these youngsters. Taking on an American West portrait theme, each child is photographed against a plain backdrop.
"I wanted to put the kids at centre stage, taking them out of their social context," Sean tells Creative Boom. "Over there, the children often have to live an adult life because of the situation the country is in. I went a year after the earthquake, which had a big impact on the life of the kids. I just wanted to put the spotlight on them."
Back then, in 2016 following the deadly earthquake, it was estimated that more than a third of a million children faced months sleeping out in harsh conditions after their homes were destroyed.
"I would often come across street kids during the day. After spending some time with them and making friend with their leader, they'd let me take portraits. I tried to represent them with dignity, they have a very difficult and dangerous life out there," adds Sean.
Of all the children he met, Sean said it was the young monks who were the most difficult to photograph: "I was offered to stay in their monastery and share their schedule, waking up at 5am, eating with them, playing football after their study too! I stayed for a couple of days there. The place was so remote. Every time I asked about taking portraits the headmaster would refuse. It was only the last day, two hours before I left, that they allowed me to pick up my camera. But in the end, it was worth the wait."
No matter what their background or status, every portrait features a child or young person sitting in front of a similar backdrop to tie the series together. "I only had very basic equipment there, so with curtains, wooden pole and clamps I managed to build a 'mobile daylight' studio to take the portraits. I tried without the backdrop but they didn't stand out; they looked like regular travel pictures, I wanted to do something a bit more formal."
Sean continues: "My background is fashion photography so it made sense for me to work with the same approach. I wanted to put the kids at centre stage, taking them out of their social context."