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FO2 STAGE | Apoorv Songara

by Team FO2, 20 Jun 2023

I started my photography journey in 2017 at my sister's wedding. She didn't have a photographer at her wedding, so I shot the whole wedding from my mobile phone. And to my surprise, the photos turned out pretty well. She loved those pictures and still has them; some are even framed and nailed to the wall. This made me happy, and it felt like I should pursue this. 

I was born & raised in Indore, and my family is in the tailoring business. We have our own boutique, and my sister is also a fashion designer. I completed my school in 2018. After this, I pursued BBA, from which I dropped out in my second year. 

I feel very blessed to have such a supportive family. My father was never against me following photography. Even when I dropped out, he just said, "Tu yaha par mat rukna, bahar nikal aur jo karna chahta hai kar. " My elder sister is a fashion designer, so she also helped me learn about the fashion world. 

I wanted to become a dancer during school and pursued it passionately for six years. I didn't see any scope at that time in dancing. We used to have a lot of shoots for dance videos, and cameras were always present around me, and it really did fascinate me, and a thought just made a home in my mind that I should not just be in front of the camera. I also want to show art from behind the camera. After my sister's wedding, I found out that one of my friends had a camera, so I used to take his camera and click pictures.

I have worked in Indore for almost two years, where I met some influencers and worked with them. I have done personal projects and got to know some outstanding artists. Then in December 2019, I shifted to Mumbai- a city where every artist had to come once in a lifetime. I was settling in, and we were struck by covid in March 2020. So I had to return to Indore and stay there for two years. I spent those two years contemplating life choices and various things. At times like this, I always go back to Zakhir Khan's videos, which inspire me a lot.

I shifted to Pune for a 3-month internship. I was staying with a flatmate who was from IIT. He used to go before I woke up and used to come back after I slept. Combining these things, I was getting desperate and angry with myself about what I was doing. I was barely doing anything during my internship, making me even more anxious about things. That's when I got to meet a famous influencer, Shakti. He was also from Indore and was looking for a videographer/photographer. Our first project was a video for Reebok, which went viral, and after that, I worked with only him for almost ten months. We won Cosmo awards together. In 2022 we worked for Vivo, and the first banner for that Vivo campaign was placed in our city Indore at Satya Sai square, which was a real proud moment for me. Even today, when I think about it, I can't stop smiling. And Shakti won the influencer of the year award that year, which was heartwarming for me.

One day my internship mentor Amit asked me to send him some references for a shoot. So I collected some concerns and sent them to him. After that, he called me to meet him and shouted at me and taught me how things work in the industry. I was shocked because I had never done any of that. No one in Indore has ever asked about these things. His way of teaching was a little different, but it never hurt me because I was learning from him. 

Amit always knows how to handle his students; for instance, I was a little demotivated because my work was not getting featured anywhere. So I told him about it, and somehow he sensed that I was looking for validation. He told me things like this take time, just focus on your work. Soon after, I started getting featured on Photo Vogue, GQ, Vogue India and many more. And the day I got my first feature, he was the first one I texted to tell.

After spending some time in Pune, I moved to Mumbai and got opportunities to work with various amazing people. Once I took a few days off to see my family in Indore and got a call from Vogue India that there was a shoot of Masaba Gupta. Would you like to do it? I said, "Yes." We immediately booked the flight ticket and went to Mumbai for the shoot. I have done many celebrity shoots, but that shoot still holds the top spot of my best shoots because my sister always looked up to her, and I got to work with her. It was one of the reasons that I had to grab that chance. 

I have worked with many brands, influencers, and magazines, but I also love to work on personal projects because of the freedom, such as how to shoot, and creative independence compared to commercial shoots. Being a dancer, I love being around music, especially Hip hop and recently got an opportunity to work with Divine. I love shooting people, listening to stories of different people, and showing them through my art. I have found out that people around you are always inspiring. You have to see it. I'm also experimenting and exploring the field of documentary and I made one for my grandmother's stepmother, who lived for 106 years. Those photographs became my first feature in an international magazine.

Photography is more challenging than it appears from the outside. It's not just about picking up the camera and clicking pictures. The effort that goes into planning, arrangements, shoots, and post-processing is really tiring. You have to be really passionate and dedicated to pursuing and continuing in this field. Whenever I feel low, I watch Zakir Khan's interview, which was taken at the spoken fest, because I find him really inspiring and feel connected because we are both from the same city. Working with him is at the top of my list, and talking to him is like a dream. And I want to continue dancing as a hobby to keep myself active.

Photography took me to a lot of new places and helped me meet people I have only seen on screen. It is one of the best things that has happened to me. I am forever grateful for all the opportunities and hopeful for many new ventures in the future.

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