There’s a certain magic in freezing an organically-occurring moment in time” — words of an amiable scientist whose time freezing masterpiece becomes a dangerous weapon in the wrong hands forcing him to don a cape and battle duplicitous evildoers? Not really.
Fortunately, for the sake of the cosmos and all that it holds dear, Vinay Aravind is an unlikely superhero of a different kind. His weapon of choice is a camera, he wears his undies on the right side of his trousers, and his endeavour, although not exactly emancipating, might make a lot of people say ‘cheese’. Aravind, a bona fide, old school, Mohan Lal fan will soon embark on a nationwide quest to shoot professional quality Facebook profile pictures for anyone who asks. For absolutely no cost! Now, don’t start smiling already.
Aravind’s motives are not completely altruistic — there is a strong business incentive spurring his project. He says, “I do randomly take pictures of friends if I happen to have my camera with me. A few of them have used those pictures as profile pictures and they have been well-received online, with many ‘Likes’ and comments.
That got me thinking — about how this might be a good way to get some publicity, and it seemed like a fair deal where the subject would get a picture they liked, and I get some visibility.” Aravind, however, does expect the project to manifest into a bit more than just a commercial enterprise, “In the next two weeks, when the actual shooting starts, I expect it to get interesting just for the range of people I will end up meeting,” he adds.
Aravind has already received more than 50 requests, a number he thinks will rise steadily. The requests have come in from all over the country. Some of them are from cities like Bangalore and Chennai which he frequents, while others are from Delhi and Mumbai, cities from which he is waiting to receive a professional project. In return for the shoot, his ‘muse’ will be asked to use the picture as his/her Facebook profile picture for one month, at the end of which Aravind will send him/her a high-resolution, watermark-free version of the picture with an unrestricted (but non-exclusive) licence to use the picture for whatever he/she likes.
Aravind’s business acumen has been honed over a period of time. He is a graduate of Bangalore’s National Law School. He landed his first job with Ernst and Young in 2004 and, for the next few years, he functioned as a lawyer under different legal firms. The vagaries of the job, however, weighed heavy on him, paving way to an organic transition into a profession which pandered to his joie de vivre — photography.
But is there a visual style Aravind plans to utilise for the profile pictures he will shoot? “Even while shooting professionally I don’t use lights or props. I am a candid photographer and like capturing moments as they happen. I will, of course, accommodate all reasonable requests. If the subject wants to bring a prop or wear a costume or stand on her head, I’d be more than happy to oblige,” he says. So have there been any such requests yet? “One girl wrote in from Bangalore saying she wants to pose with her Enfield Bullet, now that sounds like it should make for a nice shot!”