FO2 Stage | 025 | Raghav Rai Ralhan

Being a part of a large photographer's community, I arrange photo walks from time to time. During one such walk, we noticed a man who was getting his ears cleaned on the street. This was quite an interesting subject for all the group members. The subject wasn’t comfortable getting himself photographed so he kept denying everyone who ever held a camera. But some members couldn't understand it and kept pointing their camera at him. With a group of 6 or 7 people clicking around him, he just lost it. He just ran behind one of them and would have beaten him if we wouldn't have intervened. This photographer was a 16/17-year-old kid who had just started his journey. He was so shattered by the experience, that I had to sit and counsel him for over an hour, to get him going again. As a mentor, Patience, Timing, Discretion and Perspective are the key aspects that I keep advising newcomers about.  

From being a mentee to now a mentor, it has been a long journey. My first trip as a photographer was to Meghalaya, with my mentor, Dheeraj Paul. I was very confused about what I wanted to become. The field of photography is so vast, that it’s hard to choose. On that trip, I got to capture different types of genres, from landscapes to portraits. I took my time understanding all of them, and summed them up into ‘Travel Photography’ and that’s how I knew what I wanted to pursue. The choice was reconfirmed, when a photograph from this trip was published on the first page of an international magazine, I was so motivated by it and still think of it as my greatest achievement. I had nothing at that time and I was very overwhelmed by it.

I’ve always had a thing for photography since my teenage days but I never took it seriously. I was busy working in my family business, through which I had accumulated some savings for myself. I have never thought that I was gonna be spending it all on a hobby. But destiny has its own way. I decided to spend my entire savings on buying myself a camera. Initially, My parents objected to it, as it was too much money to spend on a hobby. But later when they saw my passion and the hard work, I put in, they started supporting me. I started going out a lot, taking pictures and uploading them on Instagram. Social media has given me a lot of recognition and motivation. Even my father took a lot of interest in my work and supported me financially for my trips and equipment. Your family takes time to understand and adapt to the situation, but once they see you working sincerely and with passion, they will support you, no matter what.

After a year or so, I started getting collaborations and earning through them. I started getting assignments on my own and focused more on my photography, due to which I spent less time in the family business. Eventually I was so focused on my work, I couldn’t manage both and I decided to step out of the family business.

For me photography is an art. I knew from the beginning that it’s not going to be just money for me. There are genres where you get paid easily, but being an artist, I didn’t want to be directed by someone. I wanted my passion to become a medium of my storytelling and not of someone else’s. 

I continue to tread on the path of my principles, and "travel photography". I know it’s hard to earn money through it, but I am confident that in the end, everything does fall into place.

People keep blaming that Instagram has ruined photography. But for me, it has positively changed my life. I couldn’t have imagined being at this stage without Instagram. It’s really up to you how you use it. It has given me a reason and I have grown as a person and as a professional.

I’ve started my youtube channel recently, which is filled with mixed content related to my photography and travels. Once this pandemic is over, I’m looking forward to traveling as much as I can, once again.

My thoughts -

Think of your photography as an art, not a race. Races come and go. Medals lose luster but art lives and grow.

Raghav Rai Ralhan

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- Blog By Harshita Sharma & Shashank Joshi

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