It was just an ordinary school trip with my friends. We went to a park where I clicked a picture of mountains reflecting in the pond. While it's normal to what most people do. But it was not the same for me. Something inside me felt so connected in those moments behind the lens that I realized a special feeling about photography. I am glad that It came to me as easily and naturally as walking comes to a small toddler and wasn't taught or pushed into it. Since I was in school at that time, I couldn't do much but I kept clicking pictures on my phone. Phone cameras at that time were not evolved. Finally, in 2014, I was in 2nd year of college and my mom bought me a Nikon digital camera. I kept clicking photos all the time and my friends motivated me to click even more and eventually pursue photography.
Back in my hometown, one of my teachers, Chetan Kapoor was a hobby photographer. He taught me a lot about the technical aspects of photography. He had different cameras and I learned how to operate most of them. It became my weekend routine to go to him and learn as much as I could. He helped me with the basics of photography and I just can't thank him enough. I am still in touch with him and keep absorbing as much knowledge as I can.
As time passed, I realized that I was meant to click pictures but asking to buy a DSLR camera in a middle-class household was a tough task. Most of the photographers from similar backgrounds would relate to my experience. As expected, it was a STRAIGHT NO, for the first time. We can't blame our parents. Photography is still an uncertain career option and every parent wants a secure future for their child. Also, a good DSLR costs a fortune so it was really hard to convince them. I started saving up for months. My mom could see my struggle and it was in 2016 that she broke one of the fixed deposits and bought me my first DSLR, a Canon 750D. My mother has been my greatest support since the beginning. She always valued my dreams and did whatever she could, to realize them.
Even though I owned a DSLR and was clicking good pics, my parents were not keen on me, choosing photography as a full-time career.
I shifted to Delhi and started preparing for government exams. I had to focus on academics (classes and tests and more tests) and that gave me very little time for photography. I never had any interest in a government job and knew that I would end up losing focus in both. I knew that I couldn't continue that way and had to find a middle path. So I took up a job in the private sector in Gurgaon and started practicing photography, on the side. I focused on building my technical knowledge as much as I could. But it was, in no means, an easy task. I used to travel to Delhi early morning at least 2-3 times a week and then I had to get back to Gurgaon by 9 am for my job. It was very hectic but I enjoyed the struggle because I knew it was going to be worth it. This continued for months and fatigue started setting in. However, I was very determined to give up. So I decided to switch my job and shift to Delhi. Now I could easily chase those early morning shots before the sun shifted.
I am still in the learning phase. Photography is a big world and I have just seen the tip of the iceberg. My personal experience has taught me that Weather is the most unpredictable factor in photography. It can complement your picture, or it can ditch you on your expensive trips. I still remember visiting Agra for the perfect shot of the Taj. We waited from early morning till noon for the Taj but it was so foggy that we couldn't get any good pictures and the entire trip was a waste.
Nowadays, I keep my frames as minimal as possible, and if I compare that to my previous work, I feel I have achieved better results that way. I feel that Focusing on your subject is primary and I try to avoid unnecessary distractions in my pictures.
I still have to do the job and that too, with rotational shifts. During night shifts I come back home at 5 am, and instead of going to bed, I immediately step out during the golden hour for clicking the best of my pics. I remember it was one of the coldest days in Delhi and I had gone to Yamuna ghat. It was all foggy but I still managed to get some good shots, one of which got featured in Street photography international. It feels good when you get such unexpected accolades from such big platforms. My parents are now cool with my photography but still, believe that I need to learn a lot more before I can take it up as a full-time career option.
Social media is a great platform to link up with the photographer community. But It is very important to be careful who you follow. We all tend to get inspired by the good work of others but eventually end up copying their work. That hinders your growth and you might end up becoming a second-hand photographer. A famous quote sums up my feelings on this trend
"You were born an original, don't die as a copycat"
Be original, Be you
- Pooja Bisht
Interviewer: Shashank Joshi
Written by: Harshita Sharma