Salaam Bombay Foundation adopts virtual route to bring the Masters of Photography to the homes of children from resource poor backgrounds

Mumbai: In the words of Alfred Stieglitz, “In photography there is a reality so subtle that it becomes more real than reality.” To celebrate World Photography Day, which is dedicated to the art, craft, science and history of photography, Salaam Bombay Foundation partnered with four masters for an interactive series of mini master classes where children from resource poor backgrounds were trained on the finer nuances of photography. These names include – Hridgandha Mistry – Director, Shari Academy of Professional Photography and Mentor Profoto: Lighting Pro, Jaideep Oberoi – Brand Ambassador – Canon EOS, Luxury & Lifestyle Photographer, Vicky Roy – Documentary Photographer and Fabiano Rodrigues – Photographer & Digital Creator. It is very rare that resource-challenged youth growing up in Mumbai’s slums have access to instruction of this quality.

As a prelude to this day, these four master photographers took 30 students from Salaam Bombay Foundation’s Media Academy under their wing in a 10 day long master class beginning 1st August. In these interactive sessions, the masters discussed the scope of photography as a career and imparted technical knowledge based on pre-decided topics such as portraits, skylight, landscape, black and white photography, storytelling through photographs, etc. All images were clicked by the students on their mobile phones from their homes. Students were given feedback either on the phone or on-line through zoom chats. Soft skills training and mentorship along these lines by the master photographers, added value to the master class. By the end of the master class, a strong mentor-mentee relationship bonded both masters and their students. The final photographs are now on display on the social media handles of Salaam Bombay Foundation and the masters.

Speaking about the initiative, Ms Rajashree Kadam – Vice President – Projects (Arts & Media) said, “Amidst the pandemic situation where physical connectivity has been a big challenge for most of us, at Salaam Bombay Foundation we decided to take the virtual route in order to ensure that the children continue to get mentorship from the best in the photography world. Apropos to the World Photography Day, the Mini Master Class webinar series is another step in bringing about a difference to the lives of the underprivileged youth of the society. There are many ancillary support functions in photography that also provide viable career options currently not within the purview of these youth. Continuation of skilling during these times is the need of the hour and online modes of teaching the new normal.”

Photography, since the dawn of the digital camera and the smartphone, has evolved into an art form that can be accessed by anyone, at any time. No other medium is as good a documentary of digital culture as photography. As human beings are wired to respond to images faster than text, there will always be a place for photographers in tomorrow’s world.

The Salaam Bombay Media Academy provides exposure to media as a potential vocation and develops 21st-century relevant employability skills that enhance economic prospects. These students growing up in Mumbai’s slums, go to BMC schools, and have very few opportunities to discover and develop latent talent. The rigorous three-year programme trains them in journalism, print production, design and photography, and develops strong communication, writing, and interpersonal skills.

A live chat with the masters was also concluded to give them a platform to share their experiences and to motivate their students to shoot for the stars. Mr Mahesh Palkar, Education officer – BMC was part of one of the chat sessions with the masters which amplified the motivation levels of these children.