1. Portraits of Unorganised Workers in Karnataka, India. Photos 2014 – 15, Bangalore and Karnataka, India. © Sabina von Kessel
  2. Inside/Out, Life of Children inside and outside of gated communities in Bangalore. Photos 2010 – 2012, Yelahanka NT, Kenchenahalli, North Bangalore.
    © Sabina von Kessel
  3. Life in Utopia, Summer in Bavaria, Germany. Photos 2013 – 2016, Munich and surroundings. © Sabina von Kessel 2016
  4. Nicole, Life without Money in Hamburg. © Sabina von Kessel 2018


1. Portraits of Unorganised Workers

The series of portraits of Unorganised Workers were conceptualised to give the campaign a human face and to connect the participants with the brand.

It was a real pleasure to speak with workers and photograph them. When I went with my camera inside a factory, on a construction side, on a market or on a field, they called me to take a photo of them. It was like: Finally, somebody looks at me and recognises me and my work.

Background: Prevailing social security benefits such as health insurance in India are restricted to workers in the formal sector. However, about 93% of the entire workforce accounting for close to 400 Million people works in the informal sector. The overwhelming majority of these unorganised workers do not have access to adequate and reliable social security.
For the photo bank of GIZ and for the brand campaign for Single-Window-Service, Social Security for Unorganised Workers.

Construction worker near Mangalore.
Arecanut WorkerDSC_6042-Edit-Edit-Edit
Found across Asia, these nuts are harvested from the Areca palm and are chewed for their warming glow and stimulating properties. But the short-lived benefits come at a terrible cost.
High rates of oral cancer are destroying the lives of many who buy betel nuts, often decades after their first taste.
Factory WorkerDSC_5671-Edit-Edit
Worker in a sawmill near Mangalore.
Agricultural worker in Karnataka
2014-09-10 12.08.39
Betel nut harvesting
Factory WorkerUOW_3551-Edit-Edit-Edit
Tile and brick making in a village in Karnataka
Fish workerDSC_5007-Edit
Fish worker at Mangalore harbour
Market Worker2014-09-09 10.30.44-Edit
Vegetable seller in Bangalore’s KR market
Market WorkerDSC_6556-Edit-Edit
Boy sells mops in Doddabalapur
2014-09-13 08.21.37
Construction worker in Bangalore
Widow with no pension
Worker in an iron ore mine
Headload Worker2014-09-09 11.19.12-Edit
Worker at KR market
Hotel WorkerUOW_2832-Edit
Kitchen helper in a small town hotel
Factory WorkerDSC_5657-Edit
Worker in a saw mill
Arecanut WorkerDSC_6079-Edit
Betel nut harvesting
Lime seller at KR market in Bangalore
Agarbatti DSC_6862
Agarbatti roller in Bangalore
Agricultural WorkerUOW_3846-Edit
Rice planter
Beedi workerDSC_4851
Beedi maker
Beedi workerDSC_5855-Edit
The cottage industry of Beedi making provides a small income for these women near Mangalore.
Beedi workerDSC_5892-Edit
Beedi maker in the Muslim community
Commercial Vehicle DriverDSC_6645-Edit-Edit
Bus driver in Doddabalapur


Inside/Out, Life of Children inside and outside of gated communities in Bangalore. Photos 2010 – 2012, Yelahanka, Bangalore. Photos © Sabina von Kessel

A photo essay on children inside and outside of gated communities in Bangalore. Children inside gated communities and children “on the other side of the wall” never intermingle with each other. Migrant construction worker and their children live often in front of the gated communities in tin sheet huts, while construction work is still going on. Within the direct neighbourhood children are often only seperated by a wall: on one side they are splashing in pools, on the other side children don’t have access to water and other basic facilities like toilets or bathrooms. Older sisters and brothers watch younger siblings, while both parents are working on the construction site, and have no access to education. The third group of children lives in the peri-urban, a fast changing, hybrid landscape of fragmented urban and rural characteristic.
Exhibited at a conference on urban development in Valand Academy, University of Gothenburg, Sweden.

Only a wall separates different worlds
High rise gated communities are mushrooming in North Bangalore
On the brand new playground
DSC_5366 copy-Edit
Girl in a new gated community
Most gated community have a pool
In the pool
Plastic toys
Enjoying Barbie
“Daddy’s little rockstar”
Enjoying new middle-class lifestyle
and a German sausage dog

Inside/Out: On the other side of the “gated”

Women from Bihar are building the new luxury houses on the golf course, near Nandi Hills, North Bangalore.
A new gated community is build by migrant workers who live in tin sheet huts with “outdoor bathroom” in Shivanahalli Village, North Bangalore
Ready to start interiors: non-existing hygienic facilities and toilets make life very difficult for the construction workers, especially the women and girls
Migrant workers come mostly from far away and don’t speak the local languages, which hinders them to send their children to school
No school or kindergarten for these children
The only playground
This 9 year old girl’s greatest wish was “going to school”, but she had to watch the little brother every day, while both parents were working on the construction site
Boy watching the younger sibling, while both parents are working
They love to play without supervision
She takes responsibility for the brother day and night
Electricity is a luxury and not available in every hut
DSC_4887 copy-Edit

Inside/Out: Children in the rural-urban transition zone

The city is growing fast
P1030376 copy
Fields are suddenly worth a fortune
Kenchanahalli is still a village while in the neighbourhood luxury communities are mushrooming
P1030194 copy
Sunday morning in Kenchanahalli
Boys from Kenchanahalli with a “Bauhaus”-style luxury community in the background
He collected firewood for his mother to cook breakfast in Kenchanahalli, North Bangalore
P1030124 copy
Yelahanka NT, North Bangalore
P1030389 copy
Sunday morning, the boy woke up and grabbed his best friend for a cuddle
Sunday morning, the girl is trying out a new rangoli pattern
Family in Kenchanahalli, North Bangalore
Yelahanka, North Bangalore
P1030442 copy
P1030273 copy
Kenchanahalli, North Bangalore
Kenchanahalli, North Bangalore
P1030282 copy-Edit
Kenchanahalli, North Bangalore
Kenchanahalli, North Bangalore
P1030488 copy-Edit
Kenchanahalli, North Bangalore
P1030229 copy-Edit
Kenchanahalli, North Bangalore
Yelahanka NT, North Bangalore

3. Life in Utopia, Summer in Bavaria, Germany

Coming from India for a few weeks to spend the summer holidays in Bavaria, Germany, seemed to me like a trip into a strange utopian country. Even in the center of Munich people enjoy hot summer days and dive in the cold river Isar with its cristal clear water. The Bavarian lakes shimmering in surreal colours attract people in thousands.
Photos © Sabina von Kessel, published in Die Zeit

Children near Munich
At the riverbanks of the Isar in Munich
Local children enjoy one of the smaller Bavarian lakes, the Wörthsee
In Seehausen at the Staffelsee
Isar, Munich
At the riverbanks of the Isar, Munich
At the riverbanks of the Isar, Munich
At the riverbanks of the Isar, Munich
Boat on the Ammersee
Baby in the Ammersee
Seehausen, Staffelsee
At the Ammersee
At the riverbanks of the Isar, Munich
Gathering courage to explore the Wörthsee, near Starnberg in Bavaria
Boy and his turtle in the Wörthsee, former Ausee, near Starnberg in Bavaria
Boys in traditional attire in Seehausen, Staffelsee

4. Nicole: ‘Homeless, but Nobody notices.’

Nicole led a life without money and was proud doing so. After she had to leave her flat, she decided to sleep in a trailer parked in a bourgeois quarter by the Alster, the lake in the center of Hamburg. She knew where to find everything she needed for her life and moved along fixed ‘appointments’ spending the morning in a shelter for homeless women, where she could not only take a shower, but also find good food, clothes and a place to just spend time, later eating lunch in the church, followed by spending the afternoon in another organisation, where she would meet friends and use the sewing machine. I photographed and accompanied Nicole for a couple of months and admired her discipline. The article was published with the text she had written herself. After the publication, she suddenly became ‘famous’ and was not only ‘discovered’ by the media, but also by the police. In the end she had to leave and take her trailer away.