This Award Winning Shutterbug and Entrepreneur Teaches Photography to Blind Children
How Richa Maheshwari, an entrepreneur, fashion photographer, traveller, also finds time to volunteer for her most fulfilling passion- teaching Photography to the visually challenged.
Richa Maheshwari wanted to try out a thousand things more than two decades ago when she became an adult. She was starry-eyed.
As a trip sucker, shooter, filmmaker, and entrepreneur, she has put some of those dreams into a stir. More importantly, she also dedicates time to educate Photography to visually-impaired children. The talented multi-tasker also holds a Limca Record for the maximum burpees in a nanosecond, if that’s not enough.
While Richa may be experimenting with a thousand things in her nascent times, she’s undoubtedly treading unique paths.
Hailing from Kanpur, Richa always found her calling in fashion and art. After enrolling at the National Institute of Fashion Technology (NIFT) in 2008, Richa felt the appetite to get into the creative side of things.
Her professor nudged her to polish the photography skills that led her to further trials and experiments and ultimately build her photography studio, Richa Maheshwari Films, and Photography, in New Delhi, while she was still a student. “The worst that could be was that my plan would fail. No one would shoot me to the gallows. And so, it was worth the risk,” she recalls.
A self- tutored shutterbug, Richa says that she looked at the challenges that came her way as blessings in disguise.
“When you have to learn things your way, you master the nitty-gritty of the art. You become aware of the mistakes by failing a thousand times as compared to being taught by an expert the right way from the start,” says the Delhi-based photographer cum entrepreneur.
Weaving Magic with Photography
However, her individually pursued projects help her work creatively as opposed to the commercial gigs guided by the whims and fancies of the clients. Over time, Richa has worked with several NGOs, including the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Creatures (SPCA) and the Samarpan Foundation. One similar design involved tutoring Photography to the visually challenged children at the National Association for the Blind (under the Ministry of Commission and Justice).
She got in touch with the Association while working on a crusade on blindness awareness in 2014. The experience was an eye-opener for her. Richa discovered that the children were extraordinarily talented and knew how to use gadgets like phones, cameras, and laptops.
They were all active on various social media platforms like Facebook and posted pictures taken on their phones on the platforms.
Richa noticed the pictures technically and marked that they were well-balanced and nicely composed as well. That served as an impetus to teach Photography to visually impaired children.
The children, Richa reckons, employ their ‘sixth sense’ by working on the parameters of touch and distance. They also use a simple point-and-shoot camera that Richa bought for them to take pictures. What they lose for sight, they more than make it up through the sensory perceptions of touch and feel.
“They will touch or hear the subject and mentally make an assessment of how a frame should ideally look. Suppose I’m standing 10 meters away from my students. In that case, they will ask me to say something,” she explains, adding that while there are applications that guide where the source of light is or the colour of different objects, her students have relied on their inherent instincts to click photos” explained Richa..
Richa is both pleased and excited that the students are quickly grasping the basic concepts of Photography and are effortlessly sailing from one lesson to another. This infuses in her fresh and vibrant energy to take this forward.
She explains, at the same time,, “It is difficult for us to imagine how a visually impaired person views the world. They have a different picture of the world and the definition of colours. They imagine their world differently. They also have their picture of what a human looks like. It’s so heartwarming to see them utilising their disability positively,” Richa adds with excitement.
Richa is an avid traveler and has been to 49 countries so far. She firmly believes that it empowers and widens her horizons.
“Whenever you start feeling that you have become all powerful and you are bigger than the rest of the world, you should begin traveling because that is when you realise that you are a tiny dot in this mammoth universe,” she says, adding that those who do not travel miss out on a lot by living in a bubble.
Richa’s proudest moment as a globetrotter, still, comes from representing her country, albeit at a minor scale. “Some foreigners feel that Indian women are dependent on their manly counterparts, and we all live in a veritably conservative and protected terrain. And also they see me traveling and talking about my country and also inviting them to see for themselves that this is a new India, a different India,” she says.
Richa’s passion for teaching visually impaired kids photography is infectious. She does it with all her heart and manages so many things at the same time. She credits travelling as her primary source of ideas and inspiration and plans to travel around the globe.