Aadhyaa Aravind Shankar (7) was just four years old when she clicked her first photograph using her mother’s mobile phone. Three years later, the young Bengaluru resident has won the Global Peace Photo award in the children and youth category — ‘The Children’s Peace Image of the Year 2021’, for her photo titled ‘Lap of Peace’. Her winning entry received €1000 (approximately Rs 86,000) and was adjudged to be the best picture amongst more than 16,500 photo entries that were received.
The constant encouragement from Aadhyaa’s mom, Roshni, has led to Aadhyaa’s success today. Speaking to The Better India, Roshni says, “She was all of four years of age when she wanted to use the single-lens reflex camera (SLR) but soon realised that it was far too heavy for her. That’s when we introduced her to mobile photography.”
“The size and weight of a mobile phone was easy to handle and that prompted her to click many pictures.”
Aadhyaa enjoyed capturing candid moments and Roshni says that during most get togethers and social events, Aaddhyaa would be going about trying to capture emotions on camera. “She would constantly be looking around for people smiling and those with a myriad of emotions on their faces – she enjoyed capturing these for posterity. Seeing these pictures also made us realise that she not just enjoyed it but also had a very keen eye for clicking pictures,” says Roshni.
The couple started going on nature walks and trails to give Aadhyaa a bigger platform to explore and soon she started clicking pictures of nature. Roshni adds here that these trips led her to clicking pictures of sunsets, landscapes, flowers and plants. With time and regular outings her pictures also started getting better, with more finesse. “She was doing all this with a mobile phone camera,” Roshni adds.
While there are very limited competitions where children can showcase their photography skills, both Roshni and her husband were constantly trying to find avenues to display her work.
“The Global Peace Photo Award seemed like a very good platform to expose Aadhyaa to this world and give her the exposure, so we entered her name for the competition. We explained the theme, which was asking children what peace looked like to them and encouraged her to come up with her answers,” says Roshni.
Lap of Peace – the award winning picture
Aadhyaa started looking at everything through her camera lens and Roshni says that the curiosity that it spurred in her was amazing to witness. “This competition coincided with a theme of protecting mother nature that Aadhyaa was learning in school. She started finding ways to connect the competition theme to what she was learning. She wanted to find ways to relate nature to peace and spent considerable time on the subject,” says Roshni.
In her quest to find that perfect frame, Aadhyaa saw Roshni resting her head on her mother and that caught her attention. Aadhya says, “It was so beautiful to see my mother resting her head on my grandmother’s lap. While I always found solace in my mother’s lap, seeing her turn to her mother was a very heartwarming moment for me.” Aadhyaa captured the moment and aptly titled it ‘Lap of Peace’.
“Linking a mother’s lap to the lap of nature, which in her opinion translated into peace, was the picture that won her € 1000,” says Roshni.
Speaking about the picture, Aadhyaa says, “The picture captures a moment where my mother was resting her head in the lap of her mother, who was reading. There was a cool breeze when I clicked the picture and the plants around them swayed gently. For me, the picture signifies safety and security, much like how Mother Earth safeguards us all.”
In July 2021, Roshni was overjoyed to receive an email speaking of her daughter’s win. “We were absolutely thrilled that our daughter won. We were rejoicing at her being shortlisted, so winning was the cherry on the cake,” says Roshni. Photography has allowed Aadhyaa to see everything around her in a new light and Roshni says, “Aadhyaa has a long way ahead and as of now is developing the skill of framing a story after clicking the pictures. She is exploring her creative side.”
On a concluding note, Aadhyaa says, “Peace can prevail world over, if only we can keep Mother Earth happy.”
(Edited by Yoshita Rao)