In a country where social norms wear the attire of an unchallenged religion, where family elders dictate the ethos and practices of life, where most deeds are performed in the fear of peer pressure, where being different is not so cool, where individuality is buried beneath the layers of culture, how many of us are courageous enough to totally oppose the tide, throw inhibition on the floor, rise above daily chores and say “yes” to the unique yet universal, passionate yet silent, subdued yet true voice within? How many of us paint the picture of existence with our real colors? How many of us are willing to suffer to reach heights, unmatched? How many of us bring to this world, a new dimension of success? How many of us inspire and not follow others? How many dare to traverse a path with no room for mediocrity? How many have this motto, “Dream, strive and conquer?”One couple who decided to sow this rare seed and yet bear full fruits is Munazza and Rizwan of “Deevees” who are fashion photographers hardly in need of an introduction. The Lahore University of Management and Sciences was lucky enough to have them for few hours on campus. They were interviewed by zealous and ambitious students who wish to leave a mark in Pakistan’s history. Below is only an excerpt from their engaging and stimulating conversation. What is the reputation of Deevees among people?Munazza: Rizwan always delivers within the deadline given to clients without compromising on the quality; that is why they come to him. Rizwan: My dad has been extremely ill and just got discharged from hospital to return to home. On top of that, I’m working on a Thailand shoot project as per timeline. Yet, I am here right in front of you. Why? Because I had committed to do so. Even when my staff members are absent, Munazza helps me and we finish the task on our own, no matter how tiring it is. People know they will get what I promised to them.In Pakistan, parents prefer only a normal, safe and secure 9 to 5 job for their children with no importance given to passion, creativity or special talent. How did you cope with challenges of carving your own path and identity? Rizwan: My parents are extremely broad-minded and never forced me to adopt a specific field, be it studies or profession. You will be shocked to know that Igave FA examinations 5 times and yet dad never turned against me.Munazza: I was also lucky enough to have full support from both parents and they knew my husband was with me in it as well. Both parents were educated and literate enough to understand my aspirations and value them.With progress in technology, how easier or tougher is your work now as compared to when you started?Rizwan: Due to superior technology and gadgets, my work has had a decline.Today, anyone who carries a camera in hand is deemed a photographer. In the good old days, people took pictures manually and transferred them in a roll. Thus, you had to be a technical expert. Sometimes, when a photographer checked the rolls later, they would be blank. Today, a photographer takes a picture and then edits it on Photoshop software. This makes meeting deadlines much easier. For instance, clients are told that their pictures will be ready the very next day. At Deevees, weaim at the right photo at the spot. We don’t keep it for later times as many photographers do. We minimize the application of Photoshop.Munazza: We use Photoshop only for changing the face, fixing the dress and tofinalize the contrast value of a photo.Rizwan: If corners or surroundings have to be altered, they are done right at the spot.Munazza: Today, many photographers have the habit of causing too many alterations to pictures. Our perception and philosophy is different and we don’t prefer it at all.It’s very rare that a husband and wife are also professional partners or co-workers. Do you think marriage contributed to your success? If yes, how?Munazza: Many disagreements take place every now and then. Rizwan is a stubborn man; he’s not easy to work with at all. 95% couples who work together do end up in conflict. You have to compromise on your ego, opinions and preferences if you’re working with your spouse. He’s into technicality. My strength lies in aesthetics. So we both complement each other.Rizwan, when you were an aspiring youngster at NCA (National College of Arts), how did you overcome the stigma attached to your choice of profession, especially the fashion industry?Rizwan: Actually, thanks to God, I never faced a problem. We don’t party. Nohangouts with celebrities. We are not actually connected to the fashion industry in that sense at all. We used to get many invitations but never went anywhere. Our focus, interest and priority has only been work. We are very simple people as you can see. Now, we don’t get invited to fashion shows because everyone knows we won’t come.A lot of editing takes place on photo shoots, especially through Photoshop, to the extent that the final picture is not an honest depiction of reality at all. What is your take on it?Munazza: Yes, many photographers completely change how the model looks.Rizwan: We have to make the models seem taller, shorter, fairer, darker, slimmer and fatter or change their looks totally. But we ensure Photoshop is least used.People in your field seek controversy and limelight to the point that even bad popularity is at least popularity. What do you say?Rizwan: Thanks to Social Media, I am convinced that you will get work even without controversies if you are brilliant. People think if you don’t do something weird or outrageous or extravagant or pretentious, you won’t get jobs or opportunities. We don’t believe this. Allah will grant sustenance if you strive for it with or without crossing your limits. I have rejected offers but after six months, the same clients ended up with us. On the contrary, I have sticked to some clients for many months but no deal was finalized. I strongly believe that Allah is there to help us.With success, come enemies and rivals or people who don’t want you to be successful at all. How has been your journey?Rizwan: To be honest, I never faced any opposition or foes throughout my career. In that sense, it has been a smooth ride and I am lucky.You won the prestigious Lux Style Award for Best Photographer in 2007. How was the experience?Rizwan: Although it was amazing but not surprising at all because we had already been nominated earlier 7 times and had not won. So when it finally did happen, it was elating to see our work being acknowledged and recognized by the world. It felt great.Munazza: Yes it was indeed.In the end, do you have anything special to say to us, a worthy message that you want to deliver or an earnest advice you want to give or any important information about Deevees?Rizwan: Munazza, tell them something about makeup.Munazza: I am doing commercial work with simple basic makeup. I just started doing bridals. Obviously, money is a very important aspect because you only work to earn. Always, do great, creative and original work with full commitment and efforts. Simply give your best – there is no other way about it.Rizwan: There is no replacement or alternative to hard-work for attaining excellence in any walk of life.Munazza: We both have really done too much hard work and we are fortunate to see its results and output as well. Thank you!With a thoroughly deserved round of applause, LUMS presented a gift bag to both guests which they accepted with smiles and gratitude. Few students asked for autographs which they did receive. A wonderful evening had ended on a pleasant note. Hopefully, LUMS will continue to maintain their tradition of inviting people who have made an immense difference but are not haughty about it at all.Published in Daily Times, November 7th 2018.