Today, Richa Maheshwari is an award-winning photographer, TEDx speaker, filmmaker, entrepreneur, and traveler. But it was not always this way.
“I never thought I would take up photography professionally; it just happened. I used to pick up smarter ways of presenting my assignments and used photography as a medium of expression,” she said.
The youngster’s talent was luckily spotted by a professor who encouraged her to take it up seriously. Always “self-taught”, she started her practice professionally from the 4th year of her college stint.
“I started my freelance photography career while I was a student, but the photographers out there had not even given me a single internship opportunity, instead they treated me as a threat”
In 2014, Richa got associated with National Association for the Blind while working on a blindness awareness project.
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There she found that those kids had a unique talent and inclination towards clicking selfies with their smartphone. That’s when Richa realised to teach them professional photography by using a point and shoot camera.
Though most of the kids are still in school, two of them have taken it up professionally.
“My students have covered events, done shoots under my guidance. I was associated with Nikon India and I got them Point and Shoot cameras partially sponsored and partially self-funded, and they all have smartphones.”
When she started her own company, she had no godfather or contacts in the industry which, she says, “is partial when it comes to people with connections.”
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So far, she has 28 students learning photography from her.
Walking through the learning process, every Sunday she visits the National Associated of the Blind and teaches these kids on their campus itself because it was more convenient for them to travel from their hostel. “But sometimes, they are practically explored to photography by visiting various locations, including my studio,” mentions Richa.
“While I was working on the Blindness Awareness Campaign, one day a student named Prateek was receiving a pep talk from the principal and asked me to council him on putting extra efforts on his studies. Even before I started saying, I received a beautiful reply in anticipation of something serious coming from my side. Pratik sighted that he is more talented than I am, and when I asked him how? He said, “You can only work during the day while I can work even at night because I am the dark knight.”
In the future, she plans to teach photography to the kids at Radhika Foundation for assisted living. The organisation helps and supports kids with autism and other special needs.
Once the normalcy after the pandemic resumes, she also plans to set up a facility for not just the visually impaired, but also for kids with other disabilities.
All the images are sourced with permission from Richa Maheshwari.