I always had a relationship with the camera for as long as I can remember. My uncle gifted me my first camera Kodak 110, when I was around 9 years of age, and used to carry it around everywhere and take photos, but I got hooked on this industry of light, camera & action after watching the iconic movie of 2000 Kaho Na Pyaar hai.
After completing the 12th standard, my parents wanted me to pursue engineering and get a government job as I was good at studying. They thought it would be best for me, but I was well aware that I won't be able to live by the 9-5 rule in my life. Hence, I convinced my parents that I wanted to pursue cinematography, and my parents were convinced by my ambition and supported me wholeheartedly whenever I needed them.
I heard about SJMC offering a journalism course in Indore and came to this new city which was big and exciting for someone like me from Chittorgarh, Rajasthan. I got enrolled into the very first batch of this college. I was very excited as I thought I would learn how to handle the camera and shoot like a professional, but later, we learned they only teach about print media and journalism.
After completing three years of college, I gave an exam for SRFTI but couldn't get into it. I got admitted into the Film & Television college in Noida. One of my professors there taught me about lighting and what great importance it has in the world of cinematography. During that time, Saregama organised a competition in which we had to make a music video and submit it. It was an intercollege competition in which I won the best cinematography. That award satisfied me that even though I couldn't get into my dream college, I'm still doing good.
After graduating, I worked in MTV Roadies for some time and I also worked in Doordarshan, which I left after the first day as I got the strong feeling that this was not the kind of work I wanted to do. I went home and had to stay there for six months due to medical reasons that broke my work continuity and made it hard to return to the field. So, I started working in the family-owned medical store at Chittorgarh, and in a few months, I bought my first camera, Canon 1200D. Every day in the morning, I used to go to Chittorgarh fort and click photos and one of the photos of that time was published on the NatGeo website.
One of my friends called me to Indore for an ad shoot which was to be shot in a day, but my friends asked me to stay a little longer and once again start the work from this city where I began my journey from. I started wedding photography with little interest in the field but to earn bread & butter. This work was going really well but like every other artist, I was also struggling between art & business and realised that the artist within me was not happy & decided to stop doing wedding photography temporarily. The next few months were the most challenging time of my life as I was not earning enough, and also, I didn't have the kind for which I left wedding photography. In between, I worked with zee music and a few others, but they weren't enough. I got through this time with the support of my family.
Then I started my school, the School of Cinematics, in 2019. this school gave me a sense of achievement in my life. " The more I teach, the more I learn."
I was teaching, learning, and working. My life has just started. I am working on movies and web series. I am also in the last stage with my very own project, the movie which I was working on over the previous five years with my friends.
One thing that I teach to my students that I learned from my experience is " keep at it, sacrifices have to be made to grow, but the moment you quit, your journey ends right there".
My relationship with my camera is still as deep as it was when I first held the camera and my journey has just started.
- Kuldeep Damor
Written by : Vinay Matre
Interview by : Rahul Thakkar