Tasveer; the name entails so much more than its Facebook page. An initiative started by two 17 year olds- Riya Behl and Aaryaman Sen- who wanted to make a difference, and not in a humdrum manner. It is a completely student run endeavour aimed at capturing the powerful work done by NGOs and non profits - completely free of cost. More than 40 dedicated students, involved in photography and videography, are active members of the Tasveer team in Bangalore and Delhi as well, only 6 months after Tasveer's inception in Mumbai. We interviewed the founders of Tasveer- Aaryaman Sen and Riya Behl, and came across some brilliant answers.
So first and foremost, the generic question, how did the urge to start Tasveer surface?
Aaryaman: Six months ago, my school newspaper asked me to capture a social program where grade 11 students taught the support staff rudimentary English and Computer Applications in an attempt to improve their ability to understand what they do. I went in extremely nervous. What if they didn’t want photographs taken of them? What if they were offended by my presence there? But contrary to my expectations, the employees were thrilled to be in front of a camera. For ninety minutes, they were stars of a show, grasping concept after concept with astounding ease and sneaking poses in in between. It was an awe-inspiring display of optimism and adaptability in the face of harsh conditions and I was hooked onto the concept of photographing projects like this. So, that night, I called Riya and we decided to start Tasveer.
Pro- bono photography for social events is a pretty brilliant idea and not many think of it as charity work per se. What do you think about this?
Riya: Photography has the power to move us. History has proven that time and again, with photographs like The Napalm Girl and Kevin Carter’s 1993 photograph of a starving child and vulture in South Sudan. Especially now, more so than ever, photographs are a critical, readily available, and increasingly important tool of communication, for we live in a world powered by social media. So pro bono photography for NGO events and activities not only helps them cut their costs but also publicise more efficiently to potential donors. Our team doesn’t see it as charity work but just helping charities continue their wonderful work. A ripple effect, you could say.
What is the key to maintaining an ever-growing audience considering that you are confined to a social networking website?
Riya: Very recently, after a World For All - Animal Adopt-a-thon, Jaccky Bhagnani shared one of our photos of him at the event! We saw our page views go up to 6 digits! I’m not saying the key to maintaining an ever growing audience on Facebook is have a celebrity share your page - though it certainly helps; but generally, just keep sharing. Almost all our photographers talk about Tasveer and what it’s about when their out on a project so apart from the NGO sharing our work, we also have interested people who were at the event coming to take a look at what these teenagers are upto on Facebook, yet again.
Most student run organizations try to keep the momentum going but sadly die out, what is the next step Tasveer wishes to take?
All Tasveer requires is an NGO requirement, a willing student photographer, WiFi, and Whatsapp. We have logistics' teams in all three cities that connect the two, and 21st century technology that helps make all this happen. As for the next step, we’ll just keep rocking the pendulum.