40 students bring smiles on the faces of 300 persons

Sixty-one-year-old Lakshmi Swaminathan smiles happily out of the photograph that shows her selling idlis in the backdrop of her roadside shop in Bharathidasan Nagar, an encroachment adjoining the Valankulam Lake near Sungam.

She had a reason to be so happy. That was the first time she was seeing her photograph. Her immediate wish was to frame it and hang it in her modest home.

Some 40 students brought similar smiles on the faces of nearly 300 slum dwellers on Monday. And, it did not take much. All that the students had to do was wield a camera and they had their subjects happily saying ‘cheese’ for their smiles to be preserved for posterity.

When members of the Photography Club of the Department of Visual Communication of Hindusthan College of Arts and Science planned to do something creative on World Photography Day, they also wanted it to be something unusual. Then was born the idea to visit a few slums and take photographs of those less fortunate ones who would have never got an opportunity to be photographed.

At the end of the day, the idea turned out to be a more than fulfilling experience for the students. S. Mathivannan, second-year student of the Department, says that all it needed were 30 cameras and a printer to instantly print 6x4 inch photographs to make the people happy.

“Since we had not informed the dwellers, it was nice to see the surprise on their faces when we told them the purpose of our visit. They were more than willing to pose. It was all the more special because most of them had not faced a camera till now,” he says.

The residents were awestruck as they saw the photographs being clicked and the prints coming out of the printer. It was all like ‘magic’ to them. While some kept looking at it repeatedly, a few others took it into their homes to give it a place of pride.

Another student, S. Swathi says that they took photographs according to the request of people. “Some wanted solo pictures, some others with their spouses, a few with their children, and some even with their house or shop.

We clicked groups of friends and children also. Some women, though interested, were shy and we had to convince them a bit,” she adds.

After Bharathidasan Nagar, it was a similar experience at Ammankulam for students. All that they did was to freeze a moment of the residents’ life on a piece of paper.

That such a small dose of kindness could bring so much happiness was a humbling experience for the students.

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