“I like to take photographs, as we can secretly capture beautiful moments. Holding a camera creates in us a strange sense of enthusiasm, responsibility, and imagination.”
Mahadevamma, Chamarajanagar

The Need

For over a decade, Vanastree has been dedicated to maintaining the Malnad’s natural and cultural resources—and maintaining the region’s delicate but beautiful livelihoods and deep traditional knowledge. Land and Lens as an output of Vanastree in partnership with Punarchith is an extension of that mission—in discovering the many talents that individuals in the community did not know they had, and then applying those talents to further enhance and protect the natural and social environment of their home lands.

Land and Lens photographers are a critical resource for the communities in Sirsi and Chamarajanagar—for their special role in documenting and protecting the fragile social and ecological balance of their land.

The Project

Goals: Train rural women and youth how to use professional-level cameras, encourage them to fearlessly reveal their land, lives and inherent creativity through the camera lens and provide them venues, as artists, to share their work.


  • Land and Lens trained 19 photographers in 3 months.
  • After an initial training and discussion of family, community and land topics, the students were trusted with the care of a donated project camera for a series of one week self-guid- ed photography sessions—where they were encouraged to tackle the topics we had discussed.
  • The photographers were approached more as artists than students. We felt this approach in trusting the creativity and intuition of the participants helped yield such amazing art—at such an early phase in their learning of camera skills.

  • The photographers had a full photo exhibition of their work in Bengaluru in April of 2018. An exhibition in Mysore is also being considered.


Find more information, gallery photos and news about the Land and Lens project on their official Facebook page.