Updated: Mar 29
“I don't believe in love at first sight. Baby, you just grew on me.”
I was just a little girl, curious to know about the world around her. Amused by the living and the non-living, I wanted to explore more and know more. Knowledge amazed me, school was always fun. Is it wrong to like everything and be passionate about everything?
It can get confusing for the parents. The school system and the culture are not designed to cater to multiple interests of a child, so it forces you to streamline. Which way do you choose? All the so-called experienced guardians push you to go for the tried and tested route, the sciences.
Otherwise, I would have ended up in an art school. But this detour was needed.
I learned through science, how intriguing our world is. What we are made of, really. Why the world is like this. Why we are the way we are. I had gotten so good in science that I had made a career out of it. I was called a research specialist, for finding the cues to treat some scary diseases, such as ovarian cancer, breast cancer, diabetes, and fatty liver disease…working in sterile conditions wearing PPE for long hours without much interaction with the world. My focus was single-pointed, almost meditative. Sometimes, the whole day was spent without talking to anyone.
As days passed and more papers got published in science journals, I felt hollow inside. Even though my urge to contribute to the health sciences was somehow getting fulfilled, I was not intrinsically content. Not a single day was spent without craving for creativity and creating something with my own hands, something visually satisfying. Though I never completely stopped painting and sketching (my first love), occasionally clicking pictures for painting references, and performing arts, it still didn’t feel enough. I had to take that step, that life-changing decision. Sometimes, it comes in the form of choosing a new hobby.
I narrowed my interests down to fashion designing and photography. I started looking for a school that offers evening and weekend classes for working professionals such as me. By 2012, I ended up joining a photography academy because of the flexibility of class hours, and….it was way cheaper than fashion school. What started off as a fun hobby, ended up being my profession.
The Chicago Photography Academy got me my first ever clients, Charlene and Shelly. I photographed a same-sex wedding at The Crystal Gardens at Navy pier one summer evening and some night portraits by the Michigan lake, afterward. It was my first wedding photography assignment ever! Chandan (my husband) was my default assistant and we had such a ball roaming in a Limo with the wedding party on Chicago streets doing what we love. I found some more clients through my Indian community in Chicago, word of mouth, and people who had seen my work on Facebook. My clientele was not that big but it was growing steadily.
I gradually started visualizing my life as a full-time photographer, but I could not take that leap until a) I save up enough funds to sustain myself for a year. b) I create a strong backup CV from my scientific career, just in case photography doesn’t work out. The idea to create visual art every day for the rest of my life seemed romantic. But there was gritty work to be done, for example, learning about finance, marketing, promoting my work, investing in good gear, learning new skills on the go, and so on. The biggest challenge was to find my niche within photography. I was confused again as I liked multiple genres of photography, from portraits to fashion to product to abstract nature photography.
There is never a good time to start and finally, I took the full-time-photography plunge in 2015. They say time is your best teacher and I am still learning. My biggest takeaway from this journey is how much I enjoy meeting new people and learning more about them. Photography is a bridge between understanding humanity and being a little more empathic. Portrait photography is currently on top of my favorite genre list. Nature and architecture come a close second. I especially enjoy the interaction of trees with buildings. Perhaps, I will make it into my own genre someday. What do you enjoy photographing the most? Comment below and I would be happy to interact.
P.S: For all you visual folks, here is a diagram of how I got into photography.
And here is some of my past artwork, before I got into photography.
Probably, when I become an old lady and when my gnarled hands and weak knees won't support my photography profession anymore, I will resort back to painting. The circle would be complete then.