Behind the viewfinder: the second life of Pushpendra Gautam
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Looking into the viewfinder and clicking pictures was something Pushpendra found very boring, but little did he know that it would become a lifetime passion for him.
On holidays, Pushpendra preferred chilling out on a beach. His friends would click pictures but it did not interest him. However, when they published their photos online, he was impressed and this sparked his interest in photography.
Pushpendra Gautam is a fashion designer by profession and works for Pantaloons. It was while he took solo trips to Hampi and Bhutan and clicked some great pictures that he started taking photography seriously. Some of the pictures he clicked helped him win top prizes in photography competitions too. This helped boost his confidence. Soon he was spending most of his waking hours on flickr, analyzing and learning from like-minded peers.
He decided to make money using his passion and travel to expand on it. He started saving money to buy his first camera which was a 1000D with a basic lens. Pushpendra says,“If I had a high resolution camera, I would not have learned so much as this allowed me to experiment using manual mode and trained me how to use low light to my advantage. I researched more for my camera than I ever did for my laptop.”
Getting a Break
Pushpendra got his first big break when one of his colleagues in office saw his photos and asked him to cover her wedding in Chennai. Though his experience of Chennai was “horrible,”as he put it– he decided never to visitthe city again because of its scorching heat — he managed to take some great shots of the wedding ceremonies. His friend was pleased and recommended his name to another friend who was getting married. But Pushpendra was not sure where this was leading considering he hadn’t been paid for the assignment and every time he had to take leave from work. Fortunately, the colleague’s friend offered to pay him in advance and things started rolling.
Till date,Pushpendra has done over 100+ shoots and has been featured in leading wedding photography portals such as Wedding Sutra apart from winning prizes at National Photography Exhibition and was among the top 50 photographers featured in the ‘Cannon Better Photography’ magazine.
Though photography is a costly pursuit, Pushpendra advises to start with a mobile camera first,and then to move on to costly gear. Like most photographers he also started with a low-end camera and then used the money he won in photography contests to buy better gears.
Pushpendra says, “My plan was not to buy an expensive camera. It was only once I started getting more projects that I invested in a better camera.My mother has been a very big mentor. I used to rent a camera and lenses from toehold, and then learn. I got my 1000D money back by winning competitions and I now have confidence in my skills.”
Pushpendra says most of his work has come through his website which he designed on his own. Once he got a contract to shoot for a Yoga magazine cover which also gave him a lot of visibility and good contacts. “The best part is people can see your portfolio and it makes you stand out from the crowd,” he says.
“The first thing that came to my mind was to buy a domain name, hosting space and put my portfolio online. Few of my friends laughed at me when I told them I was planning to have an online portfolio. I wanted to have a unique name that would be associated with my name. After a lot of research, I finally pinned down to Simplypush.in. Since dot in domain was cheaper, I thought of trying that and later migrating to dot com. I designed my own website and put it up on WordPress. Within the next 6 months, I bought dot com and migrated to Simplypush.com,” he reveals his strategy. He adds,
In my view choosing dot com makes your website visible on the internet and removes the constraints of a region/ country or a specific business entity. Dot com felt more professional, if I aim to shoot abroad or on a global level I need to have a dot com apart from the charm in my work
It is not only about clicking
Photography is not only about getting behind the viewfinder and clicking, the challenges in this field are huge. You have to travel and make sure you don’t forget any piece of equipment.If there is low light you may need a faster lens, which you forgot to pack. At times you may not find a shop to rent the equipment you need. Apart from the above challenges, Pushpendra says that at each wedding he takes around 1500 to 1700 photographs depending on the time and then has to sit for hours to process them. Faster turnaround is the key. Finally, he selects photos based on three criteria.
1) Photos that can help him win a competition.
2) Photos that can be featured on websites, blogs and magazines.
3) Rest of the photos.
After processing, he selects around 500 of his top pictures from each shoot to handover to the client. For Pushpendra, each wedding is unique and he works as if his reputation is at stake. There was a time when he had four photoshoots in four days in different cities and renting equipment was not an option. He chose to buy it and save time hunting around.
Every photoshoot requires interviewing the couple, organising, budgeting and planning it. This helps him capture the chemistry of the couple. Fortunately, there has never been an incident where the clients were not happy with his photos.
Pushpendra says he is mainly inspired by romantic movies where he can observe the chemistry between people and learn from it. After making his mark in pre-wedding photography and travel photography, Pushpendra is looking to work on maternity shoots to expand his horizons.
Pushpendra shares some of the key lessons from his journey with photography enthusiasts.
1) Start with your phone camera; get reviews, read website and tutorials to learn.
2) With practice you become perfect, do it daily even if it is for 30 minutes.
3) Have a peer group review your work, get into similar circles and make friends with other photographers.
Check out Pushpendra’s work.