Since I was a child, the intense vibrations of a speaker and the thrill of playing music on stage made me feel elated. Drums were my first love, and this love for music paved the way for something new, photography. An art form that would give me the same high as playing music on stage. I was in the 11th standard when I first joined a band as a drummer. A band is like a family where everyone has to pitch in to make it stable and successful. When we decided to make music videos for YouTube, all doors were closed to us because we did not have the money to shoot. I decided to step in and picked up my mobile to shoot two music videos for our band. I could feel the same contentment I got from playing the drums during the shoot, which made me explore further.
All of my relatives were against the idea of me being a photographer. But seeing my interest in photography, the most supportive person in my family, my grandfather, reassured me and gave me my first camera. My grandfather learned photography and wanted to be a photographer, but his dreams never came to be due to financial instability. I feel proud to say that he has known what it is like to be a photographer through Me.
After our band broke up, I was shattered. I gave my everything to try and take our music to the next level, but it failed. I decided to focus more on photography, so I picked up various corporate projects in Bhopal and assisted a few photographers. My skills and knowledge about photography grew over time, and finally, I decided to drop out of college to do photography professionally. I continued doing music videos along with corporate gigs, which helped me upgrade my camera equipment. I started my own company, Audible Image in 2014, where we take corporate, fashion, and advertisement jobs.
While commercial photography is essential for financial stability, an artist needs pet projects to keep their artistic senses alive. My love for music and photography led me to the doorstep of the Anahad Foundation, the world’s only foundation that documents folk musicians and helps them empower through technology. I’ve met and documented amazing musicians from all over India, which opened up a new perspective on music for me. We make music videos and hand them the recordings for free so that they can showcase their talent to the world. I even do Aviation photography, a genre which people rarely pick up because of all the inconveniences that come with it but my love for Airplanes keeps me running. Whenever I am home, I have my camera ready and as soon as I hear a plane coming in, I run towards the terrace and capture it. I even waited at airports for more than 12 hours just to capture the desired plane. It sure gets exhausting sometimes but the satisfaction I get after that is immeasurable. I have an assistant who is a trained formula four racer, and I used to visit the racecourse to cover formula racing with him. I never earned a dime from any of these projects, but I learned a lot and relished every project.
Like any other photographer, the lockdown affected my work. I was on the brink of leaving photography as I was mentally and financially drained. Just before taking a final decision, a call came from an unknown phone number. I was so happy when the person from the other end offered a job on a big-budget project. The feeling of hopelessness instantly got replaced by positive energy, and I did the project with utmost dedication.
Photography has helped me understand life differently. It has allowed me to perceive visuals like never before. I now know how to connect to people through my images, and I am still learning to be better at it. My motivation to do better and learn new techniques to deliver better photographs grows each time a client appreciates my work. I think that this is something which every photographer should look forward to. They should never let harsh criticisms stop them from evolving and let the little things inspire them.
- Purnendu Deo Kodwani
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Editor: Harshita Sharma
Written by: Sauvik Chatterjee