My family didn't have the most positive reaction to my choice in photography. When I bought my first camera, they felt threatened that if I picked up photography intensely, I was going to quit my job and that is exactly what happened. They weren't very happy with it, but they slowly began to understand. They had never come across the concept of a professional photographer and moreover a whole career in it. There are only a few photo studios in my hometown and they are still working by traditional means which justify their vision for a photographer.
My love for photography caught me quite off guard from what I remember. I was in the 2nd year of engineering when during our annual college festival, I requested a friend to let me try and take a few pictures from his professional camera, just for fun & went towards the fashion show to capture it. I didn’t even know that I had the skills and talent for this form of art inside me but my friend appreciated the work which made me very happy and content. After graduation when I was working at a 9 to 5 job & I slowly started realizing that I really enjoyed photography in my free time & started practicing more often. I didn't have a professional camera at that time, so after a few months at this job, I started saving up money from my salary, and finally got my first camera with my own savings. That was one of the most proud moments for me.
I started shooting random things at the beginning. Something every beginner photographer likes to capture. And slowly I discovered that my interest scale was weighing more towards fashion photography. I began exploring more, networking amongst my tribe, and tried to expand my arena of expertise.
One day, I suggested to my colleagues that we could all take a small day out trip on a weekend. They all agreed and I took my camera along. I took some pictures of them, edited them too and when the next day they saw them, they were mind blown. They all loved them so much, I felt greatly moved by that. That was when another realization hit me, I wanted to continue doing this for longer than just a hobby.
After a while, I heard that the HR manager in our office had a requirement of a photographer to cover an in-house event and I immediately applied for it. I took up the job, and they loved the outcome. This was my first ever paid project that I did all by myself. Just like that, time kept flying and I kept making small progress with small, baby steps. Two years later, I decided to finally quit my job and take up photography as a full time profession. It wasn't easy or even remotely comfortable in the beginning, since I was accustomed to the fixed salary, and I had taken a huge leap in my career at the time. My work was featured in several exhibitions like Twtl and World Through Lens, etc. I won a few awards too, and some other images were featured on social media platforms. This encouraged me immensely and made me want to work hard every day, it brought motivation and helped me to come where I am today.
The pandemic was tough and challenging. I chose my professional niche to be a wedding photographer only a few years before and due to covid, the market had gone dry. I struggled to get good projects for my team and myself. We somehow made our way through it and got a few projects to sustain for the time being. Lockdown took up all my savings, and I had to prepare for a restart and I did, and so did my team. Today, I have a team of approximately 15 members, and we’re all working together. We are mostly doing baby shoots, event coverage and fashion shoots as a specialty.
I won’t say that I have only had good and positive experiences in my career so far, because there have been instances where I finished my part of the work and never got paid for the job. I had submitted the data, and all that my work entailed me to do, but when it came to payment, there have been a bunch of times that I didn't get paid and that was very discouraging. The only thing I took away from all those experiences were the lessons it taught me. The bright side was that I learnt something with every project which kept me passionate about my work which is way beyond anything else. Our biggest motivation as a team is when we share the feelings, emotions and moments which we captured through a lens and shared with the client, and the client reciprocates with the same energy after they have seen our work. This makes us want to improve better than our last time.
- Litesh Gupta
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Written by: Sayoni Walujkar
Editor: Harshita Sharma