From college dropout to youth icon — how Auditya Venkatesh framed his own journey
He is a 28-year-old self-taught photographer who quit a promising career in Chartered Accountancy to follow his passion. Using the humongous web of social media to its fullest, he has made it to the top, with 7 lakh Facebook followers and 12 lakh Instagram followers. Speaking about his journey, the ace travel photographer gets up, close and candid,
My dad always dreamt of me pursuing a career as an auditor, and hence added audit in my name, laughs Auditya Venkatesh
One can easily trace this Bengalurean’s career, one that is an inspiration to many.
The dawn of Audi Photography
Auditya was a student when he started his Facebook page Audi Photography. His declining interest in his curriculum led him to follow his passion. The idea of capturing every moment was always at the back of his mind, and he finally quit his college to follow his instincts,
I’m a drop-out. It was the worst. I gave up. Studying just wasn’t for me. I couldn’t complete my Chartered Accountancy. The reason I gave up, though, was that when I was doing my articleship, I was the only one in my entire batch who could communicate, because of which I got to head my own team and I was interviewing chartered accountants to work under my team. Then I realised, if I finished my Chartered Accountancy and was being interviewed by a 20-year-old who knew nothing about what he was doing, I didn’t think it was a good thing to continue. That’s the story behind my dropping out.
His initial stint with the lens dates back to the time when he was 7 years old. After many experiments and trial sessions, he received a 5MP point and shoot camera as a gift.
I've always been interested in photography. Ever since I was a kid; it's always fascinated me. When I was too young to be trusted with a camera, I'd make my family or friends sit down, and sketch them on a piece of paper, then sketch out a little negative of it and put it in an envelope that said foto-flash on top, just like they did in the good old days.
Eventually, he started his first Facebook fan page under the banner Audi Photography on Oct 1st 2010, which has today evolved into a community of around 7.5 lakh photography enthusiasts.
Mixing the love for travelling into photography
While most of us have grown up with faint memories of family trips to religious places, fairs, exhibitions, and picnics, Auditya remembers converting each of these memories into smaller memoirs. Growing up in a family that believed in a passport full of stamps, he began travelling at a very young age on a regular basis, which he religiously follows even today; so much so that, every 4 months, he deep dives into nature to return with a handful of masterpieces.
Travel and landscape is what I shoot mostly. I think whatever we grow to become is strongly influenced by how we grew up. As a kid, we travelled a lot as a family, to different places. All along the way we also documented our many trips and the things we did. Which is where my love for travel and shooting comes from.
While most of his work has a fan base one would die for, his collections from the Himalayas, the Northeastern parts of India and Silhouettes are the most loved. Digging through his humongous collection, his most appreciated work is the video he made of Sikkim. Recently, he even went on a self-funded all India tour, spending 50 days on the road and covering 13,000 km.
Photography as a career
I always charged low prices, but never did anything for free. I love social media. When I started out, I knew I loved taking pictures, but I didn't know what to do with them or how to get the word out there. Just when I was thinking about this, I stumbled across a new feature Facebook had released, Facebook pages. So I just started with that, as a way to tell people, ’Hey, this is what I'm doing now’. With time, my work has managed to build a community, and I'm thankful for that.
The negatives behind the life of a photographer
He started making decisions for himself at the age of 16. From working as a tele-caller to paying his own taxes and owning an office space, Auditya has seen the grass on both sides.
The life of a photographer is not a cake walk. It takes perseverance and determination to stick to a profile where party invites mean free photographs, where weddings mean gaining experience and no money. Talking about his initial hurdles, Auditya says,
This will probably echo with most working photographers/artists, a lot of the time, the biggest hurdle is getting the assignment at a mutually beneficial price-point. And after the project, getting the payments on time
His experience and knowledge of photography was very limited when he started out, so in order to understand how to set up a base price, how photographers talk to their clients and deal with situations, Auditya went in for being a model in few projects.
During one of his projects with the Discovery Channel in South Africa, he was robbed of his luggage. The stolen bag had gadgets, cameras and lenses worth lakhs, due to which he had to cancel all his upcoming projects, reimburse his clients and find a potential standby to fill his spot. It took almost a year for him to get back to his normal life, fighting the odds of losing something so valuable. It was one of the turning points of his life.
Auditya is an apt example of how one fights every battle, uses the resources available, strengthens his passion and conquers the world.
Whatever you're doing with your work, stay true to what you want to do, that will be what sets you apart, says Auditya as we wind up an incredible journey of self-belief.