In the wake of a 7.8 earthquake that has devastated Nepal and claimed more than 7,000 lives, many are asking how they can help. For an enterprising group of more than 20 photographers from India and Nepal that answer has been to create the Instagram account Nepal Photo Project to catalog damage and identify areas in need of aid.
The project has gained more than 5,000 followers since its launch on April 25 and features touching, often dramatic on-the-ground images of rescue and relief efforts from different photographers. For example, Sumit Dayal—a local freelance photographer published in Time and Vanity Fair—has been capturing and sharing images over the past week, including the search for a missing nine-year-old boy named Saulin. Meanwhile, photographer Shikhar Bhattarai shares a subtler image, one of an elderly man removing picture frames that still hang from a partially destroyed wall amidst rubble in the ancient town of Bhaktapur.
“Nepal Photo Project is our way of trying to make sure we get as much real information out there as soon as possible. Our team is covering as much as they can,” said Tara Bedi, a New Delhi–based freelance producer and writer who is helping curate the images. “People tend to consume news and information primarily through images.”
Bedi and other volunteers are scanning relevant hashtags such as #nepal and #nepalearthquake to see what’s freshly posted. For followers who want to contribute images of their own, the account is asking people to tag photos with #nepalphotoproject. Contributors can also send photographs via email if they prefer.
However, it’s not exactly crowdsourcing, Bedi clarified. “It’s extremely important for us to be sending out correct information,” she said. All of the photographers are known within her network either personally or by professional reputation, or through mutual friends. Any unknowns are vetted to ensure they’re a credible source.
One of the photojournalists in the group is Nayantara Gurung Kakshapati of Kathmandu, who has been venturing into the rural area of Lalitpur to share images and work alongside citizen volunteer groups to deliver aid; relief efforts in remote regions have been delayed or are nonexistent. Photographers such as Kakshapati often find the conditions risky and difficult as they try to capture images.
“We have been traveling on 4WDs, motor bikes, mountain bikes, and on foot,” she wrote in an email to TakePart. “We are definitely short on fuel and we are having a really hard time sourcing relief materials because demand is super high and supply really low.”
The photos from the project are meant to be "informative photos," Bedi said, not beauty shots.
“A huge percentage of our population is either online or using a smartphone. It is easier, faster, cheaper to push out and circulate content via the Internet, especially in moments of crisis like this that need immediate response,” she said. “If we can reach them this instant and they can help immediately, then why not?”
Click through the gallery to explore some more images from the Nepal Photo Project.