I still remember the day during college when I was not paying attention to a special photography lecture as I had no plans in building a career in photography and my professor said these golden words to me, “Never abdicate knowledge about a craft. Remember, even Dhoni did not plan on becoming a cricketer”. I did not understand the meaning of those words at that time but now when I reminisce about those words they make me smile as I understand the true meaning of what he spoke. I loved photography ever since I started learning it but never had I thought that I would become a professional photographer.
I was around 18 years old and I was just another hobby photographer with a Sony Cyber-Shot gifted by my father. The device intrigued me so much that I spent sleepless nights learning every detail of the camera. I always used to feel this bright and warm light glowing up inside me whenever I clicked the shutter button to capture something. So, I captured everything around me and took the camera everywhere I used to go.
After graduation, I was clueless about what I would do in life but what I did know was that I loved spending time with children. Whenever there was a practical assignment in my college, some way or the other, I tried to connect the topic to children. So, ultimately I decided to unite my love for children and photography. I started a Facebook page where I showcase my skills as a child photographer. Honestly, this project was not meant to gain anything financially, but luckily, people loved my work. Soon my viewers started hiring me to click photographs of their children, and slowly and steadily, this humble venture of mine made me a professional photographer.
I don’t know what it is about this profession but we start with a set of principles and gradually after meeting certain people they tend to change. If you asked my past self to do a fashion photoshoot, he would have refused without thinking much. Doing child photography quenched my thirst as a photographer and I felt complete. I did not feel like venturing out to discover the other genres of photography. Soon this thought process changed when I met a Fashion Editor who told me, “You’re boxing yourself as a photographer if you keep introducing yourself as a child photographer. You are much more than that.” This stuck with me and I gradually spread my wings as a photographer and explored portrait, fashion, and food photography during the lockdown. Though my main focus is still on child photography, I am more open to exploring now.
Like any other genre of photography, this genre also requires you to befriend your subject. Well, don’t think that it’s easy to befriend a child because each one of them has their unique personality and I like the challenge of finding a way to befriend them.
In my 10 years as a child photographer, I’ve had several clients, who have now become good friends. I even have clients from five years ago who send me birthday gifts. So, I always get excited to work with new clients because I know that I’ll make new friends. This sort of love that I get in return makes me work extra hard.
I make memories for these children so that they can see them when they grow up and know how they were loved and how the memories I am creating for them can be relived again. I keep things natural and avoid using any props or setups. Any new photographer can take up this genre, but they must remember to work hard and their main goal in the early stages should be to take it slow and find a signature style. Nothing comes easy and anything good should not come easy.
- Ankit Chawla