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FO2 Stage | Shikhar Saini

by Team FO2, 24 Jun 2023

I have been in the profession of photography for the past 5 years now, but I never got to start out as a photography student. I come from a very small town called Gurdaspur in Punjab and I was only exposed to a limited number of things while I was growing up. My family owned a bakery business in our town, and they wanted and expected me to join the family business later on as well. But, when I grew up and started discovering the unknown in the world, my radar of curiosity expanded and I wanted to know more and try more things. I had an attraction towards art and creating art, hence i chose photography to express myself each time. 

As college was on going, I was simultaneously exploring my favourite parts about photography. I was trying out new genres, newer angles and styles of photography. I remember this exploration journey being quite memorable. I used to go out a lot, and I was shooting around college fests, networking with people and that is mostly how I got my circle and my contacts through which I moved forward slowly, with time. I struggled just as much as I enjoyed this process, but that was quite a hard time too. One of the most inspiring moments that I’ve had so far, has to be when I met and interacted with Auditya Venkatesh sir at an event held by Samsung for the launch of their Samsung galaxy S21 ultra, and when I got a chance to speak with him in the lobby, and hear about his progress and his life, I felt so inspired to pursue my dreams and follow my passion. 

I was mostly interested in travel and street photography and after a while, I was able to recognize my niche. On the other hand, going to a college for a photography course was incredible. My experience amongst my tribe, and meeting like minded people was really intriguing and fulfilling. I loved every bit of that college, and I wish I could relive some days sometimes.

One of my interesting feature stories is about when a movie called “Photograph” starring Sanya Malhotra was about to release and the PR wanted to feature some real photographers and their stories from around. I submitted my entry for this event, and I got a brief feature on Sanya's instagram page soon after that. That was a great kick start for me, since that just added to my set of skills and reliability as a professional to be able to express to my clients.

There were some days when I have been extremely demotivated and discouraged, and often felt that I should have given up my passion, but at the same time I would come across an exceptional piece of work, and art and I would feel inspired immediately. This inspiration building up inside me over time, felt enough to keep me going and learning new things with time. Not giving up gave me an opportunity to prove myself and my art, with a new challenge everyday.

My parents weren’t very supportive of my choices regarding photography, and they decided to enroll me into law school after my 12th. I was never interested in law, and that’s why I couldn't focus on it. I dropped out after the 2nd year of law, and my brother somehow convinced my parents to let me pursue photography and I took a proper photography course after that. Coming from a small town, people don’t really believe in photography as a serious career choice, which is why my parents never really supported it, until recently a few years ago, they started seeing that my work was getting recognition and they support me wholeheartedly.

Covid was pretty tough, just like everyone else I was stuck at home too and exploring was far beyond imagination. That eventually shut down my creative juices as well, because there was no window for any creators to be creative. I came back home, due to safety reasons in times of pandemic. I did not want to worry my parents and family. I was pretty idle during covid in terms of creating any art, because the scope was shut down. I would help my dad with his work regarding the bakery and often feed the dogs near our house, but other than that I felt very stuck and numb about my art. There was no sign of inspiration nor was there any motivation. 

The only thing that I would like to pass onto my fellow photographers is that, always be hopeful and keep going. If you are truly passionate about something, you must keep going at it hard. Never back down, or give in to your self doubt. It only exists to make you think you cannot do it, but if your instincts say that you can, then you must. Push yourself to your greatest extent, and don’t look back. Stay true to yourself as much as you are to your art, and keep going.

- Shikhar Saini

Follow Shikhar's on Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/shikhar__saini/

Editor: Harshita Sharma

Written by: Sayoni Walujkar

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