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FO2 STAGE | Manish Jaisi

by Team FO2, 20 Jun 2023

Photography was passed on to me by my father. I still remember him clicking pictures with his film camera, and when he bought a Sony digicam when I was in college, I started to carry it to my college & click images. My friends used to appreciate my photographs. Friends really are the building blocks of someone who builds a career in the field of art. I was in my third year of graduation when I learned that our college has a photography society. So as soon as I came to know, I applied to join the club. I was asked to submit some photographs with which they were thrilled and accepted me into the club.

Delhi University used to host an annual fest called “Antardhwani,” in which many colleges used to participate. I also wanted to take part in a photography competition at that fest. Still, after becoming a member of the photography society in my college, I realized that everyone would have a DSLR or advanced camera. So I questioned myself on how I would compete with them. Finally, I gathered some courage and asked my father to buy me a camera. I clicked a picture with my new gear, and that picture was selected from my college for the DU fest. It was a massive achievement for me back then and motivated me to pursue photography.

With two of my friends, I used to go to the deer park in Hauz Khas to click pictures. That time I was into macro photography and took a photo of two ants fighting. That photo of mine was featured in the Times of India Dehradun edition and later exhibited in the Indian Habitat Centre in an International exhibition.

In our college, a photographer used to cover every function and program. So I showed him my pictures, to which he said, “you are clicking photos of frames that are already beautiful; what is your part?” That question just stuck in my head and made me question my sense of photography. That question really changed my life and perspective toward photography.

Six years ago, I started shooting parade rehearsals for Republic Day. I remember clearly that only two other photographers used to come to click those rehearsals back then. I still do this every year, and this activity of documenting the parade changed my vision.

I was doing photography on the side, and after completing my post-graduation, I joined a company, but I wouldn’t say I liked the job profile or working environment. So I quit the job after six months and focused entirely on photography. For three years after leaving my job, I explored photography through and through. I used to send my pictures to every magazine and media platform, national or international. A UK-based magazine was the first to give me any monetary profit for my photographs. Then, slowly, I started doing articles for newspapers.

Four years ago, I realized I could not do photography full-time because I wanted to provide for my family. So I joined a finance company and started doing photography along with the job. I take photos regularly because it still is something that I cannot live without.

One can see that many of my photos were taken in the evening because I am busy with office work from morning to evening, and the only time I get to click pictures is after the office. I had a flash at home. I practiced a lot with that to click good images at night. I have a daughter, and she really became a part of my passion. I have filled a 2TB hard disk with her photos in a year. 

In 2019, I submitted an entry to participate in the national award. The theme was a festival. After a month, I got a call, but as I was in the office, I couldn’t pick it up. So afterward, when I saw the missed call and called back, they said, “Manish baat kar rahe ho?” I said “Haan” to which they said “Apko national award mil gaya hai.” At first, I was shocked and even thought that someone was playing a prank, and when I knew it wasn’t, it became one of the best moments of my career.

I also have a weird relationship with the police; wherever I go, they stop me and investigate whether I am shooting parade rehearsals or in Allahabad shooting Kumbh, where they created a huge mess that I was clicking women bathing in the river which was not the case and later they left me. 

Photography has been my identity; one could even say it is an extension of myself. My pictures reflect me as a person. The street style was challenging for me. I am an introvert, but as soon as I get a camera in my hand, I can talk to anyone; that is how photography changed me. And it feels like having a superpower.

I love to shoot in the monsoon. I keep an extra pair of slippers at my office, so whenever it rains, I will pick up my camera, go outside and shoot. I will shoot anybody, whether my colleague, neighbor, or even a stranger. And the best part about shooting in the rain is that nobody will have a problem with you shooting them because everyone is in a rush, and no one will stop to fight with you in the rain.

After spending eight years doing photography, I want to share my formula with everyone who wants to build a career in the field of art; it is all Passion, Patience & Practice. I swear by this and experienced it all myself.

- Manish Jaisi

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