I think I will give my school the credit for finding photography. I was in the last few years of my school when they had asked us to choose between various co-curricular activities and I chose photography. I didn’t take it seriously at that time but in all these years, I have never said that I chose photography, instead I have always believed that photography chose me. I was 17 when I got my first paid project. After school, I was a little sceptical to choose photography as a career and decided to pursue engineering from NIT Raipur and I'm now in my last semester. I thank the photography department of my college for helping me promote my photography and my passion when I was still in college. Throughout my graduation, I explored different dimensions of photography and finally decided to pursue it full time. I am planning to get a masters degree in photography as soon as I finish my graduation.
My father works in HPCL, and we have moved around the country a lot. I have always been the person who enjoyed moving through different cities. Currently we are in Pune, and it's quite an experience. I find it really interesting to be a part of different cities, their culture, meeting new people and making newer connections in every city I have lived in. It becomes an inspiration from time to time.
One of the biggest achievements of my career so far has been an exceptional feature in Malala Yousafzai's digital magazine, where they did a small piece about young female photographers and an intern running this campaign reached out to me considering my work, and this opportunity was a golden mark in my career.
One of the many things that I will always be grateful for is my family & friends. My parents and my sister, they have had my back constantly throughout each and every tumultuous hurdle that my life has been. Through major health issues that I've struggled with and through other small problems that show up everyday, they have been with me through it all. They have truly believed in me wholeheartedly and never let me look down on myself. Another set of family members are my friends, they have been supporting me like a rock and pushing me like waves, even when I was deflected, or was feeling low or had self doubts. These people have pushed me to believe that I can do this. That my talent and my skills are too good for me to be second guessing them. I can never be grateful enough for all of these people in my life, kudos to them! I love them with my whole heart.
People often underestimate my talent and offer to underpay me for my work because I am young and don't have financial commitments or burdens. But, with time, I have learnt how to hold my ground and stick to my working style. I have earned the respect I deserve and nothing makes me feel more powerful than being a young, confident & successful female photographer.
Another thing that photography taught me was being confident, and comfortable in my skin. Over the time, I don't shy away from cameras anymore, and I take a few self portraits to keep my creative juices running. I've also become strictly against editing features like skin smoothening and some others, since I truly don't believe in them anymore. I used to edit those way back when I was only a beginner but ever since I've had some eye opening epiphanies, I have rejected work that requires me to do that.
I recently turned 22 and got a tattoo that signifies my love for photography and at the same time being present in the moment. It is the perfect representation of my growth as a person and a professional that I have become. You have to start accepting things for yourself and you need to have more confidence in yourself and that's when your dreams will follow your path and meet you halfway at some point. All that hard work is going to pay off and you just have to keep going.
- Shubhangi Agrawal