In a world where most young people are more concerned about their social media handles and living large, Frederick Dharshie is a breath of fresh air. He comes from the rare breed of youths who are pulling up their sleeves and making changes the community desperately needs. An award winning photographer, a model and a philanthropist. He is not only easy on the eyes but he also has the purest of hearts. In this interview, we get a chance to know the young man behind the camera.
Tell us about yourself?
I am an I.T graduate, a self-taught humanitarian photographer. I was driven by the great desire and passion to tell African stories through my photography. I simply just fell in love with photography.
I am also the founder of a charity group known as the Souls of Charity Initiative . The main purpose of our group is to give back to the society .We share the little resources we have, our time and our energy.
How do you balance between modeling, humanitarian photography and charity foundation?
Well I am a part-time commercial model. I have fully invested in photography. Photography is literally 100% .It is how I pay my bills. As for charity it is normally after every two months so it is easier for me to plan my schedule. I am also not alone we have a team in place so it is easier to mobilize and plan our charity events.
How did you get started as a humanitarian photographer?
Humanitarian photography is really wide. I mostly major in human interest stories. The whole idea and inspiration behind my photography is to express a person or people in an emotional way. I use my photography to discuss people’s problems, concerns or achievements in a way that draws interest, sympathy or motivation to the viewer.
What inspires your humanitarian photography? The exact moment you knew you wanted to take this career path.
I am always inspired by the environment I am in. I always have this deeply ingrained desire to tell the untold stories. It is what pushes me to wake up every morning and go out there and document/shoot stories. I grew up in a harsh environment and every time I reflect on it, I get emotional. The only way I am able to express this is through my photography.
Did you get formal training?
Honestly no. I have never stepped in any Photography/Media school. I’m self-taught or you can consider me a great YouTube student.
Which photographers influenced you and how?
No specific photographer but I admire couple of photographers in the same niche as me. The likes of David DuChemin , Lisa Kristine, Esther Havens and many more.
When you capture a photo what exactly do you want it to say and how do you get the perfect angle to express your desired goal?
For me, a photo should always communicate /tell a story. Personally, a photo must exist for a reason.
It also helps to have a perfectly clear vision in mind while taking a photo.
Rather than, “Wow, what a cool scene, I need a picture,” it’s better to say to yourself, “This landscape would work perfectly in a dark, moody photograph. How can I achieve that? So yeah, all my images have stories.
Tell us the story behind your favorite photo by you.
Mmh……. I love all of my photos, but there is one that gives me every reason to be grateful and to never complain. It really moved me and I felt I had to tell their story to the world. It is a photo of a family in Mwingi, all they have is a structure after their house was destroyed by heavy rains. The father is blind and the mother is deaf. Both parents are jobless but they still have three young children depending on them.
Your most positive experience while traveling?
I definitely enjoy interacting with different people from different communities who have different cultures and ideologies. It has helped me to understand their cultures and what makes them who they are.
What are some of the downsides of humanitarian photography?
In humanitarian photography you have to be unique especially in the way you capture your subject. You need to have profound passion otherwise you will give up easily. In most of the projects you have to sponsor yourself which is sometimes costly. Unless you have a brand, it is hard to get to work with N.G.Os. Humanitarian photography is not exactly a great business venture.
What camera /technique do you prefer?
I believe photography is a technique. A camera doesn’t really matter to me. It is what the camera captures that matters. I always ask myself if what I have captured speaks volumes, if it captures the right message I want to say.
Does photography pay?
Yes..!! It does but only if you have enough clients in your database otherwise.
Any advice you have for an aspiring humanitarian photographer?
Have patience with this kind of photography/Niche. Build your brand and be sure once your name/brand is out there, businesses will come looking for you.
What made you decide to start your charity group?
The need to touch many different lives in whatever capacity I possibly can. I believe my purpose in this world is to help others and that is exactly what my charity group does. I feel like I am fulfilling God’s purpose for me in this world.
Tell us more about the Souls of Charity Initiative.
Souls of charity initiative is a group of enthusiastic youths, mostly models, actors, musicians and artists, who are philanthropic enough to dig from their pockets to raise funds and donations to help those who are less fortunate in the society. This is a great sacrifice and a huge act of charity since majority of these big hearted youths are just students in colleges and universities. Even though they are young they are not afraid to step out of their comfort zone to help make a better place.
Do you believe the youth have the power to make the changes they want?
The youth have chances to make changes just that they lack opportunities to do so. The old guys/generation still believes in old set-ups. I think most youths realize that change starts with them as an individual. I am calling out all the youths to stand up and start making the progressive changes they want to see in their community.
Do you think the government and people at large are doing enough to help street /homeless children?
I don’t think the government is doing enough to help the situation. Look at the increased number of street families, they lack all the human basics needs thus increased levels of crime in the streets. In terms of people helping, I would say many individuals and groups are willing to help but they lack the right channels.
What was the most humbling moment you have had during your charity work?
This has to be when we visited Hidden Talent Children’s Home and the kids asked to pray for us. Kid’s prayers are very powerful it changed my way of life till to date. It still humbles me every time because it was the beginning of my many blessings.