Early morning beginnings are rare. And when they are for a workshop for kids, this was my first. Entirely thanks to Mrs. Meenkashi Hooda and the rest of the team at the DLF Foundation. They invited me to be part of the Ch. Raghvendra Singh, In-School Education Programme. I conducted two workshop sessions with school children from 9th and 10th Standards.
This is an annual edition that the DLF Foundation arranges and manages for under-privileged children. The Nurturing Talent Programme ( or NTP ) brings together experts from various fields like nutrition, psychology, career counselling and in the 2018 edition, photography for the first time.
Having recently wrapped the third edition of my #WorkshopsByNaina, which is a workshop session for adults and solo-entrepreneurs like me, I was anxious and nervous about conducting a workshop for kids. My assumption was that kids are going to be way smarter than me and I’ll really have to pull out all the stops and give them the crux of what I’d learned in my 14-year career till date.
Thankfully, I had the guidance of the DLF Foundation team ( thank you Jyoti and Radhika ) and in-class support from teachers and counsellors who engaged with me and asked questions.
Both my sessions were 90 minutes each. Initially, when discussing the possibility of this workshop with the DLF Foundation team, I was hesitant to accept because I’d never done two workshops back to back and thought I would be exhausted. I was energized instead and the exhaustion only came on once I was done.
It was nice to interact with the children but it was also nerve-wracking in the sense that I had to make sure I gave them a balanced insider view of taking up photography as a career. It’s not all glamour and gold as a lot of even us adults assume it to be. Children are way more impressionable and I wanted to ensure I didn’t exaggerate and in fact ensured that I down-played it a bit. At the end of the day, my goal was to present photography as a possible, viable career option or at the very least something they could be a revenue generating side-gig for them.
I also wanted to ensure that they understood that the Internet is a universe that can be used for whatever one wants. Being entertained on YouTube by watching movies / music videos vs. watching videos on how to take better photos for example. It is all there for us, with or without parental controls and it is up to us to decide where we invest our time.
At least in the 10th Standard classroom, I was pleasantly surprised to know that barely 2 out of the 30-40 strong class watched television at home. Most of them had Android mobile phones, which they routinely used for photography and some of the students had even used either point-and-shoot cameras or even DSLRs. Most of my communication was in a mix of Hindi and English, which was fun. I even made a couple of note-cards ( shown toward the end of this blog post ) with some instructions in Hindi. And I also got a chance to print a posted of one of my collage images to give to each of the students.
I shared a couple of Instagram accounts with the students to show them genres of photography that they possibly had not imagined prior to the workshop. For example, there’s Craig Whitehead @sixstreetunder who photographs lovely street scenes. Clever street photography or everyday mundane things with a mystery behind them. Then there’s Neenad Joseph Arul @mumbai_streetphotographer who creates magical worlds in this simple images – without even using Adobe Photoshop sometimes. Photography is whatever we want it to be. It takes a while to build a portfolio and really find a niche. And that needs to be balanced with figuring out what clients want and where the money’s coming from.
Here are some chronological photographs from the day, photographed on the Google Pixel 3XL as well as the DSLR. Special thanks to Akanksha who was there to photograph me conducting my session with 9th Standard students. Of course, “selfie tips” were a popular question amongst the older students and even teacher! Fun times.
These Winter Workshops took place at the Ridge Valley School, Gurgaon.