If you read this blog, if you receive our calendar, if you ever look at our website – you know Ken Carl. You may not realize it, but you do.
He created our poster child in this now-iconic image: He is responsible for many of our calendars (the 2011 one was a Ken Carl tour-de-force); and our website is chock-full of the images he captured in his time with us here in 2010. I use his photos in most of my presentations and slide shows and the story of how he came to be with us in the first place is now part of the Foundation’s history.
It amazes me that a person could have such a long-lasting and deep influence on us when he spent all of ten days with the Foundation.
That’s the power of photography. What he saw was a series of moments – each one over in an instant – but what he left us with will last forever.
And the funny thing is? Apparently, the Foundation had the same effect on Ken Carl. What he experienced here with our kids, he tells me, changed his world. It made him think differently about his work, his beliefs, his life.
We stayed in touch. Emails, birthday wishes, facebook tags. I sent him calendars, a poster we’d made with one of his photos, our annual report. He sent donations. We kept dreaming of how someday we would meet again.
In April, he wrote to tell me that a photography company in Chicago had invited him to do an exhibition of his work and that he had decided to make it be on the Latika Roy Foundation. It was going to be in May. Amazingly, I was planning to be in the US at that same time.
Magic. I flew out to Chicago for what turned out to be one of the most amazing events I have ever attended. Quick tip? If you are ever organizing an event, get photographers to stage it. Oh my gosh. Do they know how to pull out the stops. The exhibition was held at Calumet Photo in Chicago and when I walked in, I have to say I wondered how this was supposed to work. Calumet is a photography equipment store. It looked like a busy place of business – not a location either for an exhibition or a fundraiser.
I was wrong. Calumet has a lovely room in the back of the store which is a perfect gallery and Ken and his friends had it so beautifully set up for the show it took my breath away. And the whole evening was like that. Who were these amazing people? Where were they all from? How can I explain the emotional punch of seeing images of our children in India on a wall in Chicago – especially these images, images I know by heart because I have lived with Ken’s photos since the day he gave me that CD marked “Latika Roy | Ken Carl.”
Hard to explain.
But it’s like this: a man travels across the world hoping to make a difference. The fates conspire to put him right in the heart of an organization which already knows him and loves his work. He moves in and sets a standard.
It was the universality of it all, the strong sense I got from the audience that these were their kids too. Because when one person travels across the world to offer his gifts and his soul and another one travels the same distance (in reverse) to tell the story, the result can only be: MAGIC.