After I completed my graduation, I was confused about what’s next. We are mostly bound to have a cushy corporate job. Something that I did not want to be a part of. I always wanted to do something different, something meaningful. My family would have never allowed me to do just anything out of the blue, so I continued my studies in science, and also enrolled myself in a small photography course in Noida. During graduation, I used to give home tuition to kids. I saved this money and invested in a camera and the course.
During the course, I met one of the canon mentors, Dr. Amit Chawla, who taught me all the basics of photography. Even though my family couldn’t support me financially, they supported me emotionally which mattered the most at that time.
I feel that when you are just starting out, experiment as much as you can. Click random landscapes, dogs, cats, people on the street, fashion, travel, anything possible, that’s how you will find your own working style. When I started, there used to be an event in Connaught place called ‘Raahgiri’ in the morning. So I used to take the 4 AM bus from my hometown to attend that and click pictures on random people enjoying the event. Capturing kids was one of the most satisfying things for me and sometime later I realized that I was clicking good pictures. I had a basic crop sensor camera at that time and even though the gear was basic, I loved the kind of results it gave me.
After realizing my interest, I decided to explore deep into it. So I posted in my friends’ group that if anyone had a baby in their family, I would do a photoshoot for them. One of them agreed to a photoshoot of their 6-months-old baby. We decided to shoot in the park as I preferred a natural setting. I got some good results in that shoot, even though I was not very good at post-shoot work then.
I was enjoying my work but there was a need for financial support at that time to invest in some good gear because my work demanded an upgrade. I made a few contacts in the community and started doing wedding shoots, I used to take cameras on a rental basis to get good results. After a few weddings and by taking a small loan, I gathered enough money to buy a full-frame camera.
Now that I had my gears, I kept looking for work in baby photography. It was not as big a thing at that time as it is today. It was quite a struggle but I managed to get a few projects.
One of my friends informed me about an e-commerce company that was looking for a photographer for a product shoot. I was happy to get a project as I was not getting any good work at that time. The company gave me a product to shoot, they also provided lighting and everything else. I just had to click. I was just looking at the product for half an hour and manage to click only 2-3 mediocre photos. I just couldn’t find the inspiration in a non-living thing. For me, photography is about emotions, it’s about life. The person wanted almost 100 photos at that time. After they saw me they asked for my CV, which I didn’t have. They asked me to send it later and I did. After a few months, I received a call from their side as someone they know needed to have a maternity shoot, I agreed to it and the shoot went really well.
Few days after the shoot, I decided to make a video out of those photos and uploaded them on youtube. To my surprise, that video crossed over 1 million views. Since then, I have started getting more and more projects from all over the country. People kept referring me to their friends and families that created a good client base.
After I got married, my wife helped me a lot. From digital marketing to making the BTS of the shoots which I later upload on youtube to teach people how to shoot that particular kind of shot, she supported me in everything.
After the lockdown, people were skeptical about getting shoots done as photography is very interactive in nature. It struck me that if people were afraid of going out then would it be possible for someone to go to their place (safely) and shoot. I cut my studio backdrops into a size that could fit into a car and then hired a WagonR. We used to cover ourselves with double masks and gloves. My wife and I used to show the poses ourselves and without touching anything or anyone, we completed all the assignments. In a time when people were out of work, a small innovative idea kept us going.
Photography is a journey that makes you deal with a lot of things and you learn along the way. From learning new techniques to making a budget for your work, you have to deal with everything. Even though I have come a long way from the time I have started, learning is an essential reward every single day.
It’s okay if, in the beginning, you don’t get the kind of work you like. Just hang in there and things will definitely get better. After all, Persistence pays.
- Dhairya Bhardwaj
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- Blog by Shashank & Harshita