Champion snapper

Dr Vanessa Champion
Dr Vanessa Champion

THE photographer of stars including Pavarotti and Adele visited the slums of Mumbai, India, to capture the warmth of the girls who live there.

Vanessa Champion’s snaps will be displayed in an exhibition at The Upstairs Gallery in Berkhamsted High Street from today until Tuesday, August 28.

She said: “I was speechless. I was so moved by the warmth and love and happiness and laughter and warmth of the human heart I experienced out there.”

Vanessa, pictured above, who has a studio in the Akeman Business Park, Tring, travelled to Mumbai in May after meeting Sarah Glover, founder of the charity Born to Be Beautiful.

The Cambridgeshire beauty therapist teaches the youngsters basic skills in her profession that give them value and confidence.

Vanessa, 41, said: “The girls fall out of education when they reach puberty and do not have the means to look after themselves.

“They stay at home in their slums, where they are then beaten, trafficked or raped.”

Sarah’s skills help them get jobs and provide for themselves, so that they avoid this kind of exploitation.

Another part of the trip was to take the slum girls to an upmarket coffee shop – which Sarah had promised to do after visiting them last year.

Vanessa’s exhibition, called From Slums to the City, will focus on this and other aspects of her experiences in Mumbai.

Vanessa, who has been dabbling in photography for 25 years, said: “All you need is love and friendship.

“I have never been so warmly accepted by any community and I have travelled all over the world. I have come out a better person.”

Vanessa also takes photos of street scenes in London, but plans to take her Mumbai exhibition all around the country.

The work at her exhibition will be priced between £10 and £250, and 25 per cent of all profits will be given to Born to Be Beautiful.