These are some of the moments captured by a group of 35 professional photographers from Nepal, India and Bangladesh and posted on the Instagram feed NepalPhotoProject (NPP). The account went live on April 26, a day after the 7.8 magnitude earthquake struck the Himalayan nation and is an initiative by Nayantara Kakshapati, 33, Bhushan Shilpakar, 35, Sagar Chhetri, 24, and Kishor Sharma, 33, who run a platform for budding photographers called Photo.Circle in Kathmandu, and professional photographer Sumit Dayal, 33, also from Nepal. The account was meant as a platform to aggregate critical and accurate information about the earthquake and its aftermath.
What it has also created is a moving and evocative account of one of the worst natural disasters in recent times, putting human faces to the numbers. “When the quake hit, we thought this would be a good way to put out useful and credible information from people we know and trust on the ground, all under one banner,” says Delhi-based freelance writer Tara Bedi, 26, who is currently curating and editing all posts on NPP.
With thousands of followers, Bedi knows that NPP is different from other handles and Facebook pages. “‘Putting such a personal face on this tragedy’ was one of the comments on a picture,” says Bedi. “This gives us an idea of how much our followers appreciate our work.” In times like this, the visual medium becomes more important than words, Chhetri adds. “It was this realisation that prompted us to set up the Instagram account. It is our job to take reliable pictures and we wanted those images to become a medium for people to reach out and help.”
Another factor was the unlimited space. “Instagram allows personal followers to sift through your images, providing a larger platform for the pictures to become visible,” says Prashant Vishwanathan, 33, a photojournalist from Delhi who has been reporting from Kirtinagar, Sindhupalchowk, Kathmandu and Lalitpur, all areas devastated by the quake. “Newspapers and other news media can carry very few photos as compared to social media.”
From New Baneshwor in Kathmandu, 28-year-old Nepalese photographer Shikhar Bhattarai posted a picture of a 95-year-old grandmother with a timeless smile on her face, discussing the last great temblor in Nepal with a relief worker – the 8-magnitude quake that also levelled homes and claimed thousands, in 1934. “There is no theme, just a mission to share, connect and keep the focus on the victims in Nepal,” says Bhattarai. “What we are beginning to realise is that it is not just the strength of the images that get responses, it is the stories they communicate,” says Bedi.
Old photos, a mirror and a clock hangs on a beam of a collapsed home in Bhaktapur. Photo by @shikharbhattarai
She was in her rented room with her grandson when the earthquake hit. “I have a knee problem so it was difficult for me to carry my grandson and run out of the room but I managed. But my house in Dhading (village near the epicenter) is no more.'” 84 year old Hajur Didi reading Mahabharata with her grandson in a shed opposite Maru Ganesh Temple of Kathmandu Durbar Square remembers about her ordeal. No one follows the path of Dharma, so is the cause of this disaster. She was 4 years old when the first mega earthquake hit Nepal.
A man going through the collected artifacts and sculptures inside the Bhaktapur durbar square. Most of the sculptures collected here are from the Vatsala Devi Temple that disintegrated after the earthquake. It will be a huge challenge to build inventories and restore the unimaginable loss faced by these ancient global heritage sites.
Photo by @shikharbhattarai
Nepalese people remove debris searching their belongings from their house that was destroyed during the earthquake in Bhaktapur Kathmandu Nepal. Photo by @arunkthakur
More than 1-million Children have been affected by the Nepalese earthquake (or as 6-year old Gopal, cartwheeling here, described: “the big rattle). While schools officially reopen a week from now, there will hundreds of thousands who won’t be able to return to school. In many cases especially in the rural area’s schools have been demolished. Those that still stand are being used as temporary shelters… Here in Tundikhel (in the center of Kathmandu) kids play outside temporary shelters aware that they may not be able to go home, but perhaps oblivious to the long term implications the earthquake will have on their lives. ls ignorance not bliss in this case?? Who knows?
Photo by @samreinders
A woman walks past a collapsed temple at Darbar Square in Bakhtarpur, Nepal. The death toll due to the earthquake has reached 7,885 so far while the number of injured has shot up to 16,390, according to the officials.
Photo by @burhaan_kinu
Survivors look into a picture album, probably carrying images of their lost loved ones after the 7.8 magnitude earthquake killed and created mass devastation in Nepal.
Photo by @choudharyravi
More than 1200 houses has been destroyed in the village of Barpak in Gorkha. Once a picturesque village in Manaslu trekking route has now been turned into the pile of rubbles. “It will take months just to clear the debris”, say locals. Barpak was the epicenter of April 25 earthquake. Roadway has been blocked by the landslides and relief supplies by helicopter is not adequate, though authorities like to claim the situation to be normal now. Photo by @kishorksg
On our way to Kintang we drive across this truck ferrying volunteers from self styled Indian Guru Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh’s socio-spiritual organisation Dera Sacha Sauda. A few months ago the 47 year old guru was in the limelight when his film MSG – Messenger of God got tangled into controversy. The ‘rockstar baba’ received over a million hits on video sharing websites. We drove by MSG’s huge relief camp, located above Trishuli Bazaar. Saw hundreds of volunteers. All help is great and much appreciated at this point in time. Just as long as it doesn’t come with strings attached or a hidden agenda. Photo by @sumitdayal
Rebuilding is the villagers main concern as the monsoon is approaching. Villagers of Haibung ward no.3 are in the process of salvaging the corrugated sheets from the roof of their destroyed houses. Waiting for relief is not an option right now. What ever individuals can do for themselves is the best help they can get to sustain for the coming months. Photo by @sachindrarajbansi