I used to like the camera and was attracted to it but not in a way that I would have thought of becoming a photographer. I wasted many reels of our film camera, for which I got beaten up in my childhood. I left school after 10th standard because I was not interested in studies, mainly because I failed in maths. Well, I am not just attracted to a camera; as a kid, I was interested in gadgets, and at some point, it stopped at the camera, which I am glad about. I started doing photography after 2007, when mobile cameras were coming into fashion. At that time, I used to click photos of nature and landscapes.
I've always thought I was going to do something in music. I used to play tabla at the Gurdwara and mix songs, hoping I might become a DJ, but fate had a different life for me.
When Facebook was booming, I used to upload photos on Facebook, and through that, I got to know the Indore photography community. Then, as I started sharing my photographs there, I started getting appreciation for my photos.
In 2011, I bought my first camera after fighting many discussions with my father. Before buying my camera, Shabu sir, whom I met through the Indore photography community, gave me his Fujifilm digital camera to learn the basics. He also took me to shoots to teach the technical aspects.
I was really active on Social media, through which I got a job at the Times of India as a freelance photographer, which I did for six months. I got a chance to do shoots for celebrities. So one day, my old friend asked me, ""Ek Baar wedding photography bhi try kar ke dekh le." So I said, "usme kya h dekh lete h" as I'd got nothing to lose at that time.
At my first wedding shoot in 2011, I was nervous because many famous people were present at the wedding. However, I had seen the photos of some weddings which were Candids and black & white, so I thought of taking such pictures, and when I showed those photos to the client after the wedding, they were pleased, appreciated me, and paid me well. So I decided to do wedding photography more actively.
I attended a concert of Sonu Nigam in 2010, my first ever concert, and it was fascinating to me the lights, crowd, and ambiance. So the next time I went to a show, I took photos with a camera, even though they didn't get featured. I had too much fun shooting the concert, so it was worth it. At this concert, they had one more photographer who clicked Sonu Nigam's photo, and Sonu Nigam made his profile picture on Twitter. It inspired me to do something like this.
After a few months, Vishal & Shekhar were doing a show. So I borrowed a camera, went to the show, stood in the front line, and captured the whole show. And the satisfaction of doing photography came when Shekhar used one of my clicked pictures from that show as his profile picture.
My life's turning point was in 2016 when I went to shoot the Salim-Sulaiman concert. After the show ended, I went to their hotel and waited outside to get a picture with him. I had a friend who was in their crew. He called me and said, "Bhai aaj nhi ho payega, sab log bahut thak gye h." And as I was leaving, I received his call saying, "Salim wants to meet you; come up." I went to Salim's room, and he asked me to show him the concert photos. He loved the pictures and appreciated me. After that, he shared my contact number with many artists and helped me to make a name in the industry. Till today I have captured 136 concerts.
My father was never in favor of me pursuing photography as a career for several reasons, the first being that I left school and the second being our family's religious beliefs. My grandfather was a Sant, so was my father and he had the exact expectations from me. When he passed away in 2015 and left me with family responsibilities, I regretted that I couldn't show him the best of my decision as photography changed my life after he left. After his death, there was an expectation from people for me that I should quit photography and start taking care of Gurudwara. Still, I couldn't because, for me, following something half-heartedly is not my thing, especially when there's a belief that many people are involved.
I am very grateful for everything I have today; photography changed my life. One of the things that always helped me was my attitude toward taking a new opportunity, which helped me become who I am today. I never hesitated when someone gave me an opportunity, and I say this to everyone - "You should never miss a chance; you never know what can change your life."
- Himmat Sodhi
Follow Himmat's work on Instagram: https://instagram.com/himmatsodhiphotography?igshid=YmMyMTA2M2Y=
Written by: Vinay Matre & Harshita Sharma
Interview by : Harshita Sharma