Kaavya Rajesh and Rajesh Ramakrishnan
Rajesh and his daughter Kaavya were inspired to give away photos after reading about GivePhotos online. Knowing that girls are often undervalued in the Indian sub-continent, they decided to focus on fathers and daughters and create a campaign called ‘My Daughter Is Precious’. They not only give away instant prints to families in low income areas, they also talk to them about the importance of girls’ education. Kaavya, who is only in 10th grade, answered our questions below about the project. You can follow Rajesh on Instagram @rajesh_photo and learn more about Kaavya’s project on her Facebook page.
When did you start giving away photos?
We started this project in March of 2016 and gave out instant photos to fathers and their daughters in lower socioeconomic areas. We have so far done this in Dhaka, Kolkata, Chennai and Delhi.
What motivated you to do it?
I was inspired by a documentary called ‘Girl Rising’ where I learned that 65 million girls don’t attend school across the world! This really upset me and motivated me to do something about it. I spoke to my parents and we came up with this idea.
The inspiration for the instant pictures came from an article my mother found about GivePhotos online in DAILYGOOD. It was about a lady who gave instant prints to children in underprivileged areas in India as many cannot afford one.
My father and I combined our passion for photography with our belief that fathers can play a big role in their daughters’ lives and came up with this project.
What equipment do you use and why?
We usually use a Cannon 5D Mark III to take the digital photo and we use a Fujifilm Instax camera to print the instant pictures we give to the families.
Can you share one memorable story with us about your experience sharing photos?
Every time we give the families the pictures, the joy on their faces is heartwarming. The people volunteer to show us around so that we can take more photographs and spread the positivity and the message.
A particularly memorable person we met was Machekantan who is a fisherman who lives in Oorurkuppam, the fisherman’s colony in Chennai. He is a friendly and forward looking man, bringing up four girls. His daughter Gayathri, his granddaughter Abhinaya and his nieces; Nandini and Renukadevi. Their parents, his brother and sister-in-law, passed away and Machekantan has been looking after them since then. His wife works as a maid. Abhinaya studies in class four and Renukadevi is in class ten, they hope to continue studying until they complete college and get good jobs. Nandini finished Class 10 two years ago, but decided to stop studying. She now regrets it immensely. She hopes to complete her education some day. Gayathri is in her second year of college, she’s a business student studying BBA at the Janaki MGR college. She fears that she won’t be able to complete the course because it’s very expensive.
“The fees are very high and my parents are working very hard to pay them, but if they can’t I’ll have to drop out,” she said sadly. They have taken loans from the local moneylender at high rates of interest to fund her education. If Gayathri completes her graduation, she will be first one to have a degree in her family.
Do you have any suggestions for people who would like to give photos?
I think it is a great gift to give because a photo can capture a moment, a relationship, and preserve it forever and enable them to cherish it. We should all do this for people who dont have the resources to own a photo.
Read more about Kaavya’s campaign