Sunday, August 17, 2008

Sir, your photography is improving. Thanks to me:-D

That's what 16-year-old Grace swears by, who believes in practice-makes-make-man-perfect and teaching-is-a-learning-experience adage. The youngest F.O.E participant in Nagaland, Grace was an all-time favourite and would cheer up the team with her wit and humour. So much so that, once she actually went to her tutor and quipped: "Sir, you must thank me. Your photography is actually improving as you teach me!!!!"

Her father passed away last year and since then her mother has been struggling to make ends meet and save the family of 5 from penury. Whatever little she earns from the pan shop and by selling used clothes is just enough for their survival. And this is where our Freedom of Expression project steps in by - showing them a means of livelihood, empowering people with an inherent skill and thereby boost confidence.

Photograph by: Grace N-Ovung
Location: Kohima, Nagaland
Date: 06 July, 2008

"Before I came to the workshop, I thought that my life was really miserable. But after visiting villages to take pictures, I realise that there are people whose lives are worse than mine. I will take up a part time job and buy a digital camera.”

Throughout the workshop, Grace's favourite subject was to shoot old men and women. "I'd like to shoot their wrinkled faces and wizened hands. With the zoom lens, i can see them with much clarity."

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Who said sports photographers can only take stunning pictures?

Do you think only sports photographers can take breath taking pictures such as a football player caught in mid-air when trying to hit the ball, or an athlete who's just above the ground sprinting past the target line. Well, we have every reason to prove you incorrect.

Find below are some awesome pictures taken by F.O.E participants across five locations. Mind you, these are all amateur photographers and a majority of them got to hold the camera for the first time in their lives. Nonetheless, they shot the pictures with so much professionalism and it gives us immense pleasure to share them with you. Scroll down.

Thursday, July 31, 2008

Yeh dosti hum nahi thodenge...PART II

Shout out to Freedom of Expression!

Naandi's initiative to train and empower people with picture taking skills is now paying off :-D

For, participants have started taking up photography seriously. 16-year-old Purna Chander Rao, is a case in point.

In July, 2008, exactly a month after undergoing the 6-day F.O.E training workshop, the super quick and super enthu boy from this remote village called Manjaguda, in Araku Valley, pooled in all his savings (Rs 6,000) to buy a new Nikon Digital Camera!!! Yup. He did. He persuaded Dharma Rao, program officer, Araku Organic Coffeee project, Naandi Foundation, to accompany him all the way to Visakhapatnam - five hours away from Araku - and assist him buy the best camera. In fact, Charitha Reddy, who traveled to Araku from Hyderabad as part of the training workshop, received calls from Purna, enquiring details if a digital camera can be purchased for Rs 5,000, names and models of cameras and companies and their whereabouts!

And lo and behold, Purna is now the official photographer for Naandi in Araku. His first major assignment was to shoot pictures of the first Annual General Body meeting of SAMTFMACS, the country's only tribal coffee cooperative set up under the aegis of Naandi, on o5 August, 2008.

What more. Purna is all prepared to set up a full-fledged photo studio in Araku and continue with his passion for photography as a source for livelihood.

And when we called him up to congratulate on his new possession (Nikon) and on his first assignment, he only had one question for us. "What is the cost of the camera on which we were trained?"

Surprised, Charitha, who was attending the call questioned: "But why? You just bought one!! Is it for someone else?"

Purna: "Nooo. It's for me. I want to buy another one for the studio."

Now, it's our turn to shout out to Purna. For his interest and passion. And for utilizing the traning programme so well.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Look who's singing....

We all heard of traits that a corporate CEO has - hands-on, down to earth, no attitude on his sleeve and blah, blah, blah... But how many of them will sit in the boardroom and actually sing to cheer up the team? Ok. While you start guessing, we have something to share with you (a sort of owner's pride - neighours envy :-D). Last week, we got our CEO and project heads singing to the beats of the sensational Kabhi Kabhi Aditi zindagi mein...

As the training workshops under the Freedom of Expression project came to an end, it was time to apprise teams and share with them experiences from the F.O.E's 45-day sojourn, give them a glimpse of what was achieved so far and get overall feedback on the project . Breath taking pictures shot by participants from 5 locations were shown using a power point presentation which ended with interesting behind-the-scenes pictures of participants experimenting with the camera, master photographer Rajendra Shaw and his team assisting participants, filmmaker Mita Bose and her crew following them everywhere.

And when the song Kabhi Kabhi...was played at the end of the presentation, it had everyone singing along cheerfully. And that has truly set the tone for us to continue with the next step of F.O.E to prepare the coffee table book.

Yeh dosti hum nahi thodenge.....

As someone said, there are no permanent friends and permanent enemies, but permanent interests. While we'll not get into a debate if there are no permanent friends and foes, what we certainly believe is that there are permanent interests. Always.

We are reminded of this each time when participants of the just-concluded Freedom of Expression project find a way to stay in touch with the team. Affectionate SMSs to Charita, who travelled to Nagaland, or phone calls to Sudha, who travelled to Sheopur, asking when they'll visit them again or to express their willingness to come all the way to Hyderabad and if there would be a phase II to F.O.E.

And Araku takes the cake, where two pariticpants have taken to photography seriously. So much so that, they are right now there in the field shooting pictures of coffee farmers. These are the pictures that will be used for the farmers ID cards, which Naandi will issue to coffee farmers shortly.

This is just the begining. With time, we hope, participants will get more such opportunities to take up photography more seriously and with a purpose. Sigh.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008


Hyderabad se gayi Sheopur. Sheopur se gayi Punjab. Punjab se gayi Araku. Araku se gayi Nagaland....

Well...this is not actress Juhi Chawla crooning a Bollywood song :-) These are locations, which the Freedom of Expression project travelled over the past 45 days training men and women, children and youth to take pictures.

Though we finished training - which is the crux of the project - we ain't stopping here and heaving a sigh of relief.

The teams - both photography and video crew - are going the whole hog - with the photography team sorting out pictures and preparing for the coffee table book, the filmmaker is busy editing the video footage.

In the following posts, you'll find interesting snippets from all the five locations, participants views and more. Do come back to read a new label - Behind the scenes - which will up on the blog shortly.

ISB hails F.O.E..

Photographer: Gopinath
Location: ISB, Hyderabad Date: 23 May, 2008

If it was fun and frolic for participants when they visited the Indian School of Business (ISB) in Hyderabad as part of the Freedom of Expression project, it was a learning of sorts and a stress-buster for the management students in ISB. The team at ISB not only recieved the F.O.E team well, but also provided participants with high-end cameras and gave necessary instructions to use them. Children, who were until then using Nikon D CoolPix [8 mega pix] cameras, were mystified with what ISB had - 300 and 700 meters zoom lens - and competed among themselves to get hold of the lens.

Follow the link to read on what students at the ISB had to say about F.O.E and the participants: