What’s the first thought that comes to mind when we say visually challenged children learning photography? We all think it to be impossible, right? Well, the award-winning photographer, Richa Maheshwari, made it possible and has been teaching the art of photography to the visually challenged children for years.
Connection To Her Passion
30-year-old Richa Maheswari is an award-winning fashion photographer, a TEDx speaker, a successful entrepreneur, a fitness enthusiast who has registered her name in the Limca Book of Records. Hailing from Kanpur, in 2008, Richa enrolled at the National Institute of Fashion Technology (NIFT), and from there she felt the urge to get into the creative things. A professor noticed Richa’s talent in photography and encouraged her to take it up as a career. Since it wasn’t a mainstream subject, she taught herself through multiple interactions with established photographers.
She added, “While I was still deciding among various option in my communication design course, I was encouraged by a professor to take up photography seriously. She was enamoured by my skills and also persuaded me to take up a few freelancing projects. I started reading and training my self and rest is all history”.
Teaching The Blind Kids Photography
Over her career years, Richa has worked with several NGOs including the Samarpan Foundation, Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA) among others. And one of her projects involved teaching photography to the visually challenged kids at the National Association For The Blind (NAB) that’s under the Ministry of Empowerment and Justice.
In 2014, she got in touch with the Association while working on a campaign on blindness awareness. There she discovered that the children were extraordinarily talented and they already knew how to use the phones, laptops and of course their camera. She added, “I was working on a blind awareness self project for which I got in touch with NAB. The kids at NAB inspired me every second; they were full of energy, zeal to live and learn new things. They love clicking their photos with mobile phones, and this gave me an idea to impart what I am good at. I got the cameras, and we started classes every Sunday”.
The vision behind teaching the blind kids photography is -Simple, share, motivate and grow together. Richa wanted the students to carve a niche for themselves and create an inspiring example for society. Explaining the process, she said, “The kids are no doubt talented, but you need patience with them. Photography in modern times is about bending the rules and developing your style, but with them, I had to brush up their basics and then let them run their imagination wild. The cameras given were simple point and shoot cameras, the rules were taught, and that’s how they started”.
Impact On The Visually Challenged Children
Richa is excited that the students are quickly grasping the basic concepts of photography and are sailing from one lesson to another. She had 25 kids, and all of them were pass outs from the school.
Explaining the impact on the kids, she said, “It’s very difficult for people to imagine how a visually impaired can do photography. The impact is positive so much that there has been taking an interest in getting into this. We distributed these kids high-end mobiles and encouraged them to take phone photography further. There are many apps which makes it easy for the blind to understand the lights, colours etc. in the vicinity”.
Giving back to society, Richa started with such a fantastic initiative and we are proud of her!