I was reading a book when one of my friends sent me a newspaper cutting that mentioned a photograph had won the award in a photography competition held by Chandigarh Administration and even got a cash prize. Also, the artist was going to be felicitated by the U.T. Advisor. As I saw that snapshot, I was shaken as it brought back memories.
I remembered that morning very clearly. I hadn’t slept the previous night while it rained throughout. As the rain stopped in the morning, I packed my camera bag and went to Sukhna lake to calm myself out. It had never felt so peaceful. I didn’t take out my camera at first but suddenly a moment started to build around me. Pink flowers, people wearing similar colored clothes, overcast sky and a dog. It was a once in a lifetime kind of picture as you cannot see such moments very often. It is still one of my favorite pictures. Someone had stolen the picture and submitted it as an entry to that prestigious competition and even won it. It was heart-breaking for me and it led to an insecurity to share my pictures online in the internet space.
It was 2017, I was in college and friends were into photography. I’d accompany them for their photo walks. I used to click pictures randomly which led to my rising interest in photography. I started clicking pictures more seriously and saved them in a specific folder to show my dad about my interest and maybe that could be enough for him to be convinced to buy me a camera. I started showing him pictures and a few months later when I finally asked him to buy me a camera, he was convinced!
I started shooting at different locations and worked on my composition skills. I started following the work of different street and documentary photographers. I started researching about how to overcome communicational challenges, how to shoot at a new place, how to manage your finances while doing street photography. While researching, I came to know that most photographers switch to other genres to be financially stable. I didn’t quite relate to that thought and I decided that I will keep my photography as an art by doing what I love! I can do anything else to keep myself financially stable.
When I started, Instagram was just taking all the hype. I was enjoying it at first and was massively occupied with it. Sooner I realised that the platform could do wonders for you but there’s also a dark side of it where plagiarism is very common. My pictures were used by many pages and even photographers without any credit. Things like this repeated more often and I lost all interest in posting my pictures. My account had reached more than 11k followers when I decided to take it down and start keeping my work to myself.
I don’t have a particular mentor, but I find my mentor in different people. Many photographers I see an online act as virtual mentors to me and I find inspiration from them, it can be anyone.
I travel to different cities to capture the unexplored parts. On one such trip to Delhi, I went to a street in Chandni Chowk which is a market of spices. I always communicate with locals to understand the story of a place which helps me in storytelling in a much better way. He was showing me around and I found this beautiful frame. As I started clicking the picture, the man in the frame started scolding me! Thankfully the local I was with talked to him and he was ready to pose. Communication is always a key with locals.
Even if there were some setbacks, clicking pictures has been my topmost priority. I love exploring something new every time I go out. Currently, I have my own start-up which is not related to photography, while I’m also working in an MNC.
My photographs are my assets and I keep them as my property. Even when I quitted Instagram, I didn’t leave photography. Moreover, I started exploring cinematography and made short films which helped me grow my skills as well as my love for the art. So, it will be my message to my fellow photographers too, that you should fall in love with the art, explore it and work on your skills!
- Aakash Kapoor
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Blog By: Harshita Sharma