Place – Colchester, United Kingdom
Date – Early 2008
Mood – Excitement
A fresh-faced teenager had been gifted his first dSLR, a shiny Canon 40D. He was over the moon, it was his first proper camera and he spent most of his waking hours experimenting with it. After a few months of practice, he promptly decided that he was good at taking photographs and harboured dreams of becoming a professional photographer.
That teenager was none other than me, with a wispy moustache, studying a degree in Economic & Politics at the University of Essex. Photography had been a hobby since my school days in Hyderabad but I had never considered it as a serious profession until I became the President of the Photography Society at my University.
The dream to jump head first into the world of photography grew over time and I keenly researched viable careers within the wide range of options of photography. At that point of time, portraits were not my strong point so I took a sour grapes approach to fashion photography and concluded that it existed only to sell overpriced clothing to gullible people with too much disposable income (my views are not that much different today). Weddings felt too monochrome, with every bride and groom dressed in the same black & white outfit (this was before I realized how colourful and fun Indian weddings are).
To make the process easier, I questioned myself. What did I like shooting? What were my strong points? I knew that I could wake up early in the morning to capture landscapes at sunrise and had always felt excited with the prospect of travel. Therefore, in all my wisdom, I concluded that a career as an international photojournalist would be apt for me. As I started actively researching into photojournalism, Steve McCurry became a big inspiration. I used to spend a lot of time poring over his work, seeing the range of places that he traveled to and built stories in my head about all the interesting people that he must have met.
Institutions like Magnum, NGC, VII and Noor served as my daily dose of motivation. Their photo stories of people and places all across the world had the power to change lives and it felt like a very noble thing to do. It would be my way of contributing to society albeit while indulging in my passion for travel and photography.
I deeply romanticized the life of an international photojournalist. I believed I would be able to command a comfortable salary from my employer and would travel in business class while staying in luxury hotels. I would be given the latest in photographic equipment and be assigned to cover life in exotic lands. During my travels, I would meet all sorts of characters, from tribal kings to guerilla warlords, from charming ladies to fellow artists. With a team of staff to take care of my logistics, I would be free to take my time to understand, explore and photograph a culture. Never a dull moment again!
Fast forward to 2011. After completing my degree and finishing year as the President of the Students Union in Essex, I had moved to London, and taken up a full time role as a crude oil trader. The first few months were exciting. I felt important, having 3 monitors while working on a trading floor where people made (and lost) millions every day. However, the novelty wore away eventually and I soon came to terms with the fact that I was not suited to work in a desk job. I needed to get out more often, my heart wanted to be free and explore the world. As my mind wrestled with these thoughts, it was fate perhaps that sent me an email about a book signing event with Steve McCurry later on that week. Without a second thought, I immediately blocked the date in my calendar, took the afternoon off work and keenly awaited the moment. When the day arrived, it all went on fairly nonchalantly. We spoke briefly, he signed my copy of “South Southeast” and remarked that he had met another person named Kishor during his travels in Calcutta. That was all but I grinned ear to ear while I carried the book home. His polite attitude and unassuming appearance, dressed in a casual shirt and blue jeans, enamoured me. I felt that it was now or never to take the plunge to become a photojournalist.
Keep an eye out for ‘Part 2 – The death of my dream to become a photojournalist’