As a student I have never been able to ace a subject that never interested me. So once I was done with school, my father and I sat down to have a chat when he told me that, he wanted me to do Engineering and graduate to do a white collar 8-9 job. My exact reaction to his statement was simple; “NO!” He asked me why, and I explained to him that I wanted to do something that interested me, something that made me happy, something that I loved, something creative, something that defined me. And then it all began!
For the past three years I have been studying Media and Communications in an affiliated esteemed Indian college, Manipal University, Dubai. The reason I initially joined this course was to do a lot of creative writing and to eventually become an event manager and a freelance journalist. But by my second year I had totally changed my intentions. When I was introduced to the subject of photography (professionally), and I was amazed as to how keen I was to learn more. It was then when I realized that; how much I enjoyed doing photography. Being able to express through my visual perspective, to convey to others my exact emotion on the subject matter made me happy.
Once I was introduced to the concept of photography, I constantly wanted outlets of inspiration, of how different people took pictures and expressed themselves through a single picture. That is when I came across webpages like Lens (New York Times), Photojournal links, National View (The National), various blogs and individual photo essays sites, finally helping me understand the concept of photojournalism and how different it was from photography. I was intrigued. And I knew this is what I wanted my career to be about, being able to take pictures not for pleasure but for being able to tell someone’s story through picture and text.
The concept of photojournalism is not thoroughly understood in India as opposed to other countries. So I constantly find myself answering questions like “What is photojournalism?” and “Why do you want to do photojournalism? Isn’t it a dying art?” (The latter are reactions of people who have a fair idea of what photojournalism is.) I reply to them by saying,
“photojournalism is the art of packaging more than thousand words in one photograph. It is the quest of every photojournalist to make its viewers go ‘WOW’ when they see what the picture actually depicts. Yes some say it is a dying art, but I think in this generation we have more people claiming to be photographers and trying to understand the concept of photography as opposed to 10 years ago. And the reason I choose to photojournalism as my career is simple, it is because it is not something easy. It is not about just clicking a button, it is about extreme precision and the ability to find an interesting angle to mundane things, it is about being able to see what others fail to see. Because truly, there is no greater joy when somebody reads or looks at your work and you see the look on their faces, and you know that you have left them inspired and amazed.”
It has been a year that I have been pursuing my interest in photojournalism. Thus to learn more about photojournalism as a real world experience, I interned at The National for 5 months. The National is an esteemed government owned newspaper in United Arab Emirates. At The National I was under a very inspiring mentor Brian Kerrigan. He helped me learn how to be a photojournalist in this part of the world, where people in general tend to run away from the camera. I also continue to pursue my interest by maintaining a personal photography blog and help out my college in covering various events. Lastly, I keep updating myself and seeking inspiration by regularly reading and browsing through various photojournalistic blog and sites.
In the past I have done various photojournalist projects or ventures by myself. I did a photo essay on the fruit and vegetable market in my locality and how it looks when the worker trucks bring in the fresh fruits and vegetable from the docks for the day’s business, then I did a project on various people enjoying a weekend at the corniche. As a part of my college project I prepared a photography magazine and a coffee table book related to organic farming in UAE. My next target projects are, to go to India and shoot portraits of different people and find out their story and compile them in a photo feature, and to do a photo essay on my special needs sister.
Apart from photography, I also enjoy writing. I initially enlighten people about my creativity by writing poetry, and consecutively getting published 7 times in a UK based publishing company Young Writers / Forward Press. In the coming years The Statesman newspaper in Kolkata, India had published my writing about the celebration of Hindu festive cultures in a foreign nation. Recently I was also nominated for The Young Journalist Award at Dubai International Film Festival’12. Apart from that I maintain a blog and have done a considerable amount of interviews with people of various facets.
The reason I want to do this course at (this particular college) is because the course you offer is everything I want to learn in my master’s degree and more. Moreover I think studying in the States will give me the proper exposure in my field of interest. Also it has always been my desire to study in the States and learn to be self-reliant, self-sufficient and a whole rounded person that everyone wants to be in their lives and I think studying with this institution will help me to get there.
I will currently be finishing my Undergraduate degree and will purse my maters in USA and after I finish my degree I aspire to initially work at any esteemed newspaper as a photojournalist and gain enough experience to qualify myself to be potent enough to apply to National Geographic and years later I want to freelance my gathered and improved talent. Because just as my management professor says, “You are a media person and after a point of time you should be your own boss!”