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16 Dec 2019, Edition - 1616, Monday

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Secrets to a successful freelance photography career, by Ayush Pathak


Photography is a career, that is very versatile. Some go into paparazzi, some freelance, some wander in jungles, and some take up entrepreneurship by opening their studios. But just like other creative art fields, it requires a lot of patience and preservance to succeed. Most of them quit their passion and turn to corporate jobs to pay their bills.

But some don’t give up and really do touch the sky. One of such people, is Ayush Pathak, now a successful freelance photographer based in Delhi, has really made his mark.

After years of working for free, even spending his own money for shoots, not getting any credits, is now working on well paid brand fashion shoots, celebrities, politicians.

According to him, the road wasn’t easy but worth it.

Team India today education asked him secrets of the industry and how to make it big in a field, which is often considered as a hobby and not a career in India!

Q- How did you start? How old were you?

A- I was about 19, it was a paid internship. I got a stipend of 3000? per month. I made personal contacts and friends and some people referred me to their friends in other companies. And I got some work, very minimally paid but I did it anyways. For some, I did it for free, just to build relations. I trusted my intuition.

When did you know that you want to be photographer?

As kiddish as it sounds, I was inspired by Ranbir Kapoor’s character in ye jawani hai deewani. And I was in 12th standard so I layed out the entire foundation of my studies around being a photographer.

How did your family react to your career choice?

They believed that photography is not a career. I was always asked ki ‘ye toh theek hai but career mein kya karna hai?’ My relatives still ask ki aage kya karna hai? My parents are in government jobs so they were initially disappointed but now they are really supportive as I have started making some money.

If someone wants to make a career in photography, what should he do?

Before everything else, its important to be passionate about photography. That brings out the best in you. Then, make a killer portfolio. Its a lot of hard work. Making a portfolio is a constant procedure. Also, choose a beat that you want to cover as a photographer. It can be fashion, news, food, travel etc. And then take up whatever work you get even if its for free. That is how you get portfolio and references.

What is your beat and goal in life?

I cover everything for income obviously, but my passion lies travel film making. I want to cover unexplored places around the world and present it through my creativity. Let’s see how that goes.

How much a good photographer earns? Is there good money in this field?

Honestly, it’s not all fun and fancy as it looks. There were years when I was working for free, spending my own money in travelling to locations and it was difficult to pay my bills but don’t give up, it gets better. Just believe in your skill. If you are good, an average photographer can earn 80,000 to 1 lakh a month.

In India, people are obsessed with engineering and sarkari naukris, and artists and people in creative fields often don’t get their due! What are your thoughts about it?

Yes, you do get a lot of bashing for your career choice. Some even say, pagal hai photo kheenchne wala banega? People want you to be stable and in corporate jobs or yes sarkari naukri. That’s where you have to stay strong and fight for your passion

In a country like ours, careers like hair dressers, make up artists, photographers are not given enough due when the society can’t even function without these skills.

How to be a photographer?

1. Invest in a piece of good equipment – camera, lenses, tripod.
2. Build a portfolio.
3. Learn – you can ideally follow a guru, a photographer you consider your ideal, you can enrol in a small photography course, or just self learn through the internet. The idea is to do massive research and know A-Z of photography.
4. Take up whatever work you get – Even if it’s for free, take up whatever little work you’re getting. Be selfish, think about what else you’ll get out of this.
5. Spread the word – Whoever you have worked with, request them to let their friends know, recommend you to more people.
6. Be patient.

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