Sometime in the summer of 2018, I met a gentleman by the name of Renzo Grande who was the founder and creative director of a global photography movement called 24 Hour Project. This unique non-profit has a mission of “connecting emerging photographers, aspiring photojournalists and visual storytellers from every city of the world to document humanity and make a difference by raising awareness about global issues and empowering NGOs”.
I was quite intrigued by this project and we discussed about his experiences, motivations and vision about this movement. Needless to say, I also shared my Help-Portrait, Kolkata (HPK) initiative and our annual events. Somewhere along that conversation Mr Grande said something along the lines of, “All this is really good but your project stops after handing out the photographs, right? Can it not extend beyond that?” That single question led to explore and brainstorm possible value additions to our Help-Portrait format over the next 18 months which finally culminated and took shape in the form of a Help-Portrait, Kolkata session that I’ll be sharing here. Thank you Renzo for pushing me (intentionally or otherwise!) to explore possibilities that I never knew existed.
I reached out to our longtime client at Cogfree, Anudip Foundation to collaborate for this year’s HPK official event in early December. As mentioned above, I was looking at pushing the limits a bit for this year’s session with regard to the value it offered to the recipients. It made perfect sense to partner with a stellar Skill Development organization like Anudip (at their Baruipur center near Kolkata), as the core idea was to leverage the professionally taken portraits to the maximum benefit of the students. Our idea for this years HPK session was in perfect alignment with the core mission of Anudip Foundation – “transforming lives by creating aspirational livelihoods through digital inclusion in emerging economies” A nonprofit company with operations in India and USA, Anudip has been empowering motivated young job aspirants from economically marginalized backgrounds since 2007.
The idea was simple. Use the portraits as the profile image of their LinkedIn account (there are 21x profile views and 9x connection requests for profiles having a high-quality headshot, as per an official LinkedIn report. As most of these students did not have a LinkedIn profile yet, we decided to open LinkedIn accounts for all the 50+ students on spot (with help from the Anudip Foundation faculty) and compliment that with an introductory session about leveraging LinkedIn for their professional success.
With help from my longest Help-Portrait, Kolkata collaborator and friend, professional photographer extraordinaire – Anushree Bhatter along with our talented and trusted longtime volunteer, Panchali Kar, we went through the session like a breeze. All thanks to my team’s meticulous planning and execution ably assisted by the support team at Anudip, consisting of their center in charge, a couple of teaching faculty members and Mounita Ghosh, their Branding and PR manager. Shooting close to 60 students under the limited time constraint could have been quite a challenge if it wasn’t for the smooth operation of this team who coordinated it perfectly. A personal word of thanks and gratitude to every team member who made this happen.
The highlight of this session for me personally, was undoubtedly, the onspot opening of the Linkedin profiles of ALL the students – and using the professional portraits taken during the session to use it as their profile photo! It is my hope and belief that even if a small percentage of the students start leveraging LinkedIn using the principles outlined in the introductory class (a part of this years Help-Portrait, Kolkata 2019 session at Anudip Foundation, Baruipur center), they will benefit a fair bit as they embark on their professional journey. That would be the massively fulfilling for everyone involved to pull this off. Fingers crossed!