Photographer Story - Ankit Dhame
Inspiring Stories
Pixean
January 23, 2017

Photography, as a profession, has grown leaps and bounds in the past decade. The virality of digital media has stimulated the transition of photography from a hobby occupation to an offbeat profession. While it is a good time to be a photographer now, many individuals face challenges in getting their work recognized. Pixean Inspiring Stories is a space that features photographers who have overcome these challenges and have gained recognition within a short span of time. Pixean will periodically publish interviews where the photographers talk about their inspirations, their first project, obstacles, milestones and a lot more.

Ankit was only fourteen when he laid hands on his cousin’s DSLR and the rest as they say, is history. A Mumbai-based software engineering student, he has had his work published in popular print and digital media. Aptly described as ‘A collection of static realities’, Ankit’s Instagram page has a huge follower base and boosts of different genres of photography.  Despite having significant achievements to his credit at a young age, Ankit is very humble in his approach but high on ambition. Some of his captures - 

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Read complete story on his interview - 

Q. Where are you from? Tell us something about your growing up years.
A. I’ve been born and brought up in Mumbai. I’ve grown up as an only child, so I had a lot of free time to myself. Every time I started liking something, I used to get deeply into it. It started with music first, when I learned to play piano, drums and guitar, and when I got deeply attached to music, I also started writing my own songs and singing and recording them. After music, when I was 14, for the first time I got my hands on a DSLR, and I’ve been connected since. What started as a love for nature and landscapes and an urge to share the beauty with the people on the internet, has now become something very big.

 

Q. What triggered your passion for photography?
A. I used to travel with my family to new places every year, and I remember, I was one of the first people in my school to get an Android phone, and it had a really good camera. It was that time when Instagram had just launched. Nobody else near me was on Instagram. So when I realized the potential of social media, and saw that people from all over the world liked my pictures, I felt like I could do so much more than just take pictures and share them with my local circle, because now there was this whole unexplored territory that I needed to exploit. My cousin then got a DSLR for himself, and when I got my hands on his DSLR, I shot a few pictures for my cousin’s wedding. This was when I was 15. When I shared the pictures I had taken, I realized that pictures are a whole different way to reach the innermost parts of a person’s mind, and heart. My passion for words then got attached to pictures which could amplify the emotions my sentences wanted to portray, and then I just couldn’t stop.

 

Q. How did you land your first assignment?
A. I landed my first assignment through Instagram itself. The marketing agencies for brands, and sometimes brands themselves reach out to social influencers, and set up a barter between them and us. It is either for their product/service, or a monetary exchange for our services. I had grown an audience after working hard on Instagram for years, and Instagram themselves helped me by making me a suggested user, which gave me a very big audience. Thus my work reached a lot of brands, and I got to work with many national as well as international brands after that.

 

Q. What types of photography do you do?
A. I haven’t set up boundaries to myself yet, so I like to say that I do all kinds of photography, depends on the opportunities I get. Having social anxiety I haven’t really tapped into weddings and other similar kinds of photography assignments, but I’m looking to change that soon. Currently I’m working as a food and interior photographer with a PR and marketing firm set up in Mumbai, so I work with restaurants, and some fashion and clothing brands.

I also shoot portraits, which is something I love doing. I love shooting outdoors, and so I barely use any artificial lights. I’m trying to get out of my comfort zone now.

I shoot travel and landscapes too. I love making videos about my travel, and put the people in my shoes when they’re watching the videos.

 

Q. What is your favorite genre as a photographer?
A. Ah, this is a very difficult question for a person who can’t even choose his favorite t-shirt.

My favorite genre would be portraits if I connect with the person I’m shooting, and if not, then landscapes, because nature is something we all can connect to.

It would be a dream come true if I could shoot sunsets for a living. There’s nothing more satisfying than making people feel the warmth of a sunset through a picture I’ve taken.

 

Q. What is the best and the worst part of being a photographer?
A. The best part for me, would be the feeling of accomplishment of making a living out of something that I love to do. It feels so satisfying to actually follow my passion. It’s the best feeling ever.

The worst part for me, would be the fear of being forgotten or replaced, or being in a constant competition with people, and living off of people’s appreciation, and valuing myself by the views of what others think of me, or my work.

Thankfully, people close to me remind me that I don’t have to someone else to appreciate me to feel good about myself.

 

Q. What have been some of the Milestones & Setbacks in this journey?
A. Being suggested by Instagram would be the beginning of the journey. I also got featured in a ScoopWhoop article as one of India’s top 13 Instagrammers that will inspire you to shoot masterpieces (Link). I then had one of my pictures publish in The Hindu, from my travels to Himachal. This summer, I got invited by GoPro to be one of their brand ambassadors for India, and shortly after that I also won a GoPro award, but my biggest milestone was taking my mom dad out for dinner from my first salary as a photographer.

I used to get affected a lot because of not being appreciated for my work, and I’d always think of stopping and giving up. When all the people around me used to get opportunities because of how they could talk to so many people and maintain contact, it felt like I was losing out on a lot because I wasn’t good at maintaining social relations.

The only solution was to stop comparing myself with others, and believe that everything happened for a reason.

 

Q. What is your take on the current photography scenario?
A. Photography is a booming profession right now, as people now have the monetary strength to afford the luxury of hiring expensive photographer to capture their moments. On the other hand, some people don’t value photographers or pictures as artists or art. People expecting photographers to work for free, or for “experience” is at an all time high in India, where brands think exposure is a valid exchange for all the effort photographers put into their work.

The profession takes a hit when people consider themselves photographers just because they have DSLRs and know how to use it normally. That’s like considering yourself a writer because you know how to use a pen properly. As a result of so many “photographers”, the actual professionals have to face many problems in terms of undervaluation and sometimes disrespect.

 

Q. Do you have any tips or advice for aspiring photographers?
A. Invest time in yourself. Investing money will come with time.

Rome wasn’t built in a day. Everything takes time.

If you’re good at something, don’t do it for free.

Quality over quantity – Don’t take pictures just for the sake of it. Think before every shot.

 

Q. How do you capture the person, thing or place in front of you into the camera exactly the way you want?
A. According to you, what is the biggest challenge faced by a photographer?

The biggest challenge according to me is, taking pictures that make people feel something. Anything that creates an emotional stir is what art truly is. When a picture puts you in a different environment, then it has accomplished the highest appreciation of the viewer.

 

Q. Has your profession changed you as a person?
A. Yes, it has grounded me, and showed me that what we see isn’t actually the truth. Watching how the industry works from behind-the-scenes showed me that appearances do matter a lot, but all that glitters is not gold.

I have stopped undervaluing myself, and raised my own standards. I have stopped wasting time on things that don’t help me be a better person, and started focusing on things that actually matter.

 

Q. Who do you look up to in this field? Who has influenced you as a role model?
A. During the GoPro India launch event this summer, I met the GoPro America team, and had the chance to learn from one of the most talented people I have ever met, Matt Komo. He showed me what people can be if they actually give their all to their passion, and keep on working towards their dream.

I tend to look up to people I actually talk to, and not someone I don’t know personally, because someone’s work doesn’t inspire me as much as their words do.

 

Q. What do you want to convey through your photographs?
A. I want to make people feel like they were actually there where the picture was taken. I want to make them feel they’re seeing the real thing, give them the details of the environment where the picture was shot, so it feels real.

I like to accompany my pictures with words that amplify the emotions of the picture.

 

Q. What kind of technology/camera gear do you use?
A. I have a Nikon D750, a 24-120mm f4, and a 50mm f1.4. I also have a GoPro hero4 Session, GoPro hero4 Silver, GoPro hero4 black, and a GoPro hero5 Black. I tend to use my GoPros for creative shots from angles which my DSLR can’t access.

 

Q. Where do you see yourself in the next 5 years?
A. I have stopped limiting myself to a fixed path in my future, so I just see myself happy, and hope that I do what I love to do.

 

RAPID FIRE ROUND

Three Favorite locations for photography - Empty roads in the early morning/sunset, hill tops, and dimly lit hotel rooms.

A Little known thing about you - I used to teach contemporary dance in a studio.

Your autobiography would be titled - “When I Tried Doing Everything”

Three things on your bucket list - Northern Lights in Norway, playing my guitar and singing on the streets of some town in the US, and watching the milky way from the Death Valley, California.

You Unwind by - Playing my guitar in the quiet, or going for a long drive alone and playing songs by Explosions in the Sky

Current tune in your head - To build a home – Cinematic Orchestra

Your biggest fear is - Being stuck doing the same thing the rest of my life

 

MORE SHOTS FROM HIS BUCKET

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