Shortage of Kashmir-specific content has persuaded young natives to rise to the occasion and start creating the local content for social media audiences based in the valley and beyond.
IMAD came out to capture the carpeted landscape in its alluring form the moment it snowed in Kashmir this winter.
The Srinagar-based content-creator has been picturing the quaint valley in all shades and seasons for years now. His ability to take his ‘surging’ social media audience on the regular visual tours has made Imad one of the celebrated content creators of the contemporary Kashmir.
Hailing from Lal Bazar locality and holding an MBA degree, Imad Ur Rehman began capturing meadows and mountains as an avid vlogger during his home vacations.
But after wrapping up his work outside and returning to his homeland in 2018, he started making YouTube videos and eventually became a name in adventure vlogging. His YouTube channel features vlogs in which Imad is seen travelling across sprawling landscapes of the valley.
After building his digital following in a place where internet goes off suddenly due to situational twists, Imad is currently earning a decent living.
“But still,” he says, “it’s difficult to vlog in Kashmir as compared to other places.”
As a vlogger, Imad says, he has to face frequent checks and queries about his work-driven forest forays and summit scaling.
Using drone footage of the valley’s pristine locations has been an important feature of Imad’s vlogging. “I became popular because of my drone photography only,” says Imad.
“As an adventure-vlogger, I travel to far-off places and carry cameras, drones and other equipment. Government forces often question my heavy gadgetry in no-man’s land. But then, challenges are part of life.”
The “conservative” society, he says, has equally become a challenge for content creation.
“In other parts of the world, people take content creation as a profession but Kashmir is a challenging place where people look at us with suspicion,” Imad says.
“They think that we only show a happy side of Kashmir and we’re associated with some government agency. It doesn’t end there. I always have to post content which is suitable and dignified to Kashmiri audiences, otherwise people can mock you big time.”
Amid these social and security hassles, Idrees Mir, 26, has emerged as one the most popular Kashmiri content creators having more than four lakh followers on Facebook and around one lakh subscribers on YouTube.
Hailing from north Kashmir’s Baramulla district, Idrees is pursuing his PhD in Journalism from Jaipur’s NIMS University. He wanted to be a photojournalist but eventually learned that a lot more can be done on social media platforms.
As a “lifestyle-vlogger”, Idrees started content creation in 2017 and it took him time to figure his content call.
“I initially started making poetry and fitness related videos but eventually I turned to travel videos,” he says. “I figured out that it suits both me and my audience.”
Idrees’s “family-oriented” content can be seen by people of all ages. His growth has been steady and it has taken him few years to build his audience. Some of his videos have hit millions of views on Facebook.
Given his massive social media acceptance, he has upgraded his vlogging setup and does not like to get restricted to only one platform.
“I’m not a YouTuber,” he says. “I’m a content creator. My content is more watched on Facebook than YouTube.”
He seeks a profession in Academics — but not at the cost of content creation.
“In the third world countries, the era of digital content creation is in early phase,” he reckons. “It’s yet to see the peak and its future prospect is immensely bright.”
Another vlogger from the valley is an engineer-turned-cinematographer, Ruman Hamdani.
His passion started with photography and his regular image-posting on social media platforms.
With time, his Instagram page helped the 30-year-old content creator to showcase his work and boosted his online prospects. He eventually got his gigs.
“As a digital content creator, social media sites like Instagram and YouTube are my digital offices,” Ruman says. “My clients see my work on social media and strike a deal with me right away. My projects get finalised online and I meet my clients directly on the day of shoot.”
After completing many photography and videography projects, he co-founded the Master Visual Studios where he shoots commercials, weddings, music videos for local artists.
But vlogging, Ruman says, remains his first love—as the same helped him to come of ‘digital age’ in life.
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