We, as a family, always had a camera with us whenever we travelled. When the era of digital cameras started, we decided to switch to it and after going through a lot of options, we decided to buy a Kodak one as it had a good auto mode. After that, every trip felt different. I started clicking randomly and posting those pictures to Facebook. After receiving positive feedback from friends, I joined different photography groups. At that time, Fb groups were a big thing for photographers. I was amazed to get appreciation for my pics from other photographers. One day, a photographer commented about the Rule I followed while clicking all pics. I was confused, I was just a kid in school who clicked pictures of whatever he liked and never thought beyond that. However, through these groups, I got in touch with photographers and learned about the theory of photography from teachers like Sir Hemant Uppal, which helped me think beyond random clicking.
Then I thought of starting my facebook page for photography. I thought of not using my name in something different, then I came up with my name 'SIDDOLOGY'. The thought behind it was of a 17 year old mind saying, "Change your ideology to 'Siddology', to see the beauty around you." May sound weird today but at that time it was a master stroke by me.
In 2014, in my first year of college, I decided to join the photography society of the university. There were a lot of people for the audition and every single one of them had a DSLR and there I was with my Kodak digital camera. I became nervous thinking that my gear was lacking and I wouldn't get selected. I was fortunate to have very supportive seniors who motivated me to attempt the audition. Not only did I get selected in the society, but I went on to become the Vice president sometime later. Your gear is important but not more than you and your talent.
I got my first paid project where I earned only Rs.1500 for a 3 days shoot. Even though the amount was minimal but it was an achievement for me, I was one step closer to being a professional photographer. During the last year of college, I understood that I will pursue photography.
I was covering an event where I took my family’s new car and my new camera setup. The event was a success and I was very happy with the results. I had kept my camera in the car and went back to say goodbye to my friends for a few minutes. When I came back, I was shocked. The glass of the car was broken and someone had taken my camera bag. I was horrified and didn’t know what to do. Even after filing a complaint, I didn’t get it back. And many such ups and downs kept coming on the way.
My secret recipe for a photograph has always been the three Ws, When Where Why. When the picture is clicked, what is the location and your motive to click the picture? If you keep in mind these things, it will create a story on its own. I travel because I love photography and I love capturing things that say something about the place and the people.
There is a place in Himachal called Jibhi and a new hotel was looking for photographers who could come and stay there to click pictures. It was a paid collaboration. I was thrilled to be shortlisted in it. As a photographer in the world of social media, it can be hard sometimes to find the right collaboration opportunity. There were many collaborations after that including one in Singapore at the car launch of Hyundai.
Lockdown was a major downfall in the industry of photography but I became active on my YouTube and started creating knowledge sharing content, like I used to decode the movie to explain the techniques used by filmmakers in it, I named it 'Unboxing Cinema' and I used to share tutorials of how you can edit different types of photos. I called it 'Editing Sessions'. During the same time, I came across a competition by Thailand Tourism, for which I had to make videos of some tasks. I won the competition and now have an expenses-paid trip to Thailand as soon as Covid situation becomes better.
I also got my big project during the lockdown with the help of my mentor Aman Chotani sir. I started working with chef Kunal Kapur and produced videos for his youtube channel. Opportunities like this happen due to consistency. I started my journey of videos in college when a friend asked me to shoot a short film. I had never tried videos before nor did I have the gear to shoot them. He had the camera and gave it to me 2 days before the shoot to learn. I didn’t even know what we were going to shoot but it was an amazing experience. I was naive but still managed to learn the technical part online. It was much better than expected and that film did well in many college film festivals.
Currently I am on a tour in Himachal, where I and my team are collaborating and creating content with big Hostel chains and with small hotels/homestays at the same time so that together they can rise and recover from losses because of lockdowns.
Rajasthan, Meghalaya and Kerala tour is on the list too but I had to start from Himachal because my journey as Travel Content Creator started from Himachal.
From experimenting to having my own production house it has been a journey of experiences and learnings. All of this happens when you take risks and have faith in yourself.
- Siddharth Arora