My fascination towards photography began when I was around 14 years old. It’s been only 6 years since then but when I look at it, it feels like a long time. A friend of mine had just got a camera and I was instantly amused by it, and that is when my love affair with photography began. We started with clicking random pictures of trees and the street which escalated to us covering our teachers and peers at school events. After this, I knew that there was something about photography, waiting in store for me to unravel.
I got my first camera after 10th grade and I still remember how happy I was. My parents wanted me to study medicine, and were very serious about me becoming a doctor. For a very long time, I attended the coaching classes for entrance exams. While I got caught up with these classes, I took out time early in the morning, to go outdoors and just photograph anything and everything that pleased my eye.
Few years ago, I went on a family vacation to Banaras. I was capturing the whole city and I was happy with it but when we returned, I saw one of my favorite photographer’s feeds from his Banaras trip. It had portraits from the street genre and that’s when I knew that these are the kind of pictures I wanted to click. Street became my first genre and I continued to explore it from within. But by the time I felt like I could go out, lockdown happened! Time passed by just prepping and waiting for exams. During the lockdown, while my parents were working in hospitals everyday, I wasn't allowed outside at all. One day a friend of mine suggested that I should capture the Bhopal mandi. My parents were not in favor of me visiting the mandi but one day I just went there. I got quite some features for the photographs I took there, and that place gained a lot of popularity from street and traveler photographers.
I cracked NEET entrance this year, but I'm not going ahead with the college applications. While my father supports me wholeheartedly, my mother still does not support me completely in this choice of career but she definitely understands why I want to do what I do. One day she asked me why I loved clicking portraits of strangers. To which I told her it was because I felt deeply connected with them in some way. After that, I'm confident that she now understands why I do what I do.
After a few interesting incidents revolving around my medical college, NEET, and photography, when I chose photography I started getting recognized. Some of the greatest creators whom I admire so much, were coming up to me and telling me that they appreciated my work. During the second lockdown, I had an opportunity to socialize over the clubhouse and met some great people there. One of these people I spoke to in the clubhouse, actually found my Instagram and she loved a portrait that I had taken. She was willing to buy it and that’s how I sold my first ever photograph and it was such an accomplishment.
This obviously gave me an incredible boost, motivation to work and improvise, and had already started escalating. Later on, I also had an opportunity to work with Dharmesh sir, the dancer and choreographer. I’ve always been such a huge fan of his work. When his team got in touch with me, offering me an opportunity to cover for a workshop that he was holding, I was thrilled and immediately said yes! I went to cover the workshop and it was truly one of the most professional experiences of my career so far. I have also worked for Lakme and other famous brands and that but that particular assignment has been the cherry on the cake.
I came across this child while I was just walking around the streets with my camera, and he came up to me and asked me if I could take some of his pictures. I was with a friend of mine, and we later went to his house and saw that their family was living in a house made out of metal sheets and they all belonged to the labor class. I wanted to capture their pictures and told them I’ll be back in 2 days and I want you all to dress up and we will click some family pictures. They were very happy when they saw the pictures later. Now whenever they have weddings in their families, they call me. They can’t afford wedding photographers, but this is how I think I can give it back to society. After one such wedding in their family, I started doing some fashion, events and birthday party shoots to raise funds. I get immense satisfaction when I deliver them the pictures, all this effort makes it seem worth it.
One thing about photography that I absolutely love is how satisfying it is for me. Whether I'm working on something personal or for the people, every time I pick up my camera and take photographs, there is always a very satisfying feeling that passes through me. I am constantly taking up new projects and working on new things, so I never feel empty towards my work, it's always quite fulfilling. The way photography evolved me as a person was by granting me a new perspective along with wanting to be myself unfiltered everyday. With how my journey began, and how far I have come so far, I think it has been a dream roller coaster I’ve been craving a ride of.
- Kaustubh Mishra
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Editor: Harshita Sharma
Written by: Sauvik Chatterjee