Portrait of Humanity Awards — shot and directed by — Niv Shank

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Portrait of Humanity Awards 2021 Winner

Niv Shank was named one of the winners of the Portrait of Humanity Awards 2021 for his image of a water taxi driver in Varanasi, India:

”The person in the picture was a water taxi driver that I met. For me this boat ride was a spiritual experience as we started during the day into the night and I saw the changes of the Ganges river through the day. I felt like a traveler in time that came to an ancient society. It’s a story of humanity and a place where animals and people are all living in harmony and respect, one next to the other. I didn’t know that this boat ride would be one of the strongest experiences of my life, I felt lucky to observe it and I feel grateful that I’ve captured it. It’s a time travel ride, from morning to night, where you explore the life around the Ganges, where kids are waving at you, where people are washing themselves and where the dead people have been cremated. Varanasi is the holiest city for the Indians, it’s every spiritual Indian’s wish to be cremated there. It was a marvellous scene when the city turned red by the candle lights in the evening. I knew I had to capture the feeling of this place. My taxi driver didn’t speak much English, but he spoke with my energy and vision and knew where to take me. He recognized what I was chasing for, a portrait of a man against a powerful city. This was one of my highest moments as a traveler and a documentarian, to feel so belonging and so foreign at once.”

Photography: Niv Shank

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