Mayur Channagere’s picture-perfect journey to following his passionNatasha Ali
A successful corporate career did not stand in the way of Mayur pursuing his talent for capturing special moments and turning his #PassiontoPaycheck
Capturing the perfect shot is the sum of many things. The lighting has to be perfect, the elements have to line up perfectly and a degree of technical know-how goes a long way. But none of this matters without an eye for detail and the ability to slow down and capture the world in a specific moment. For Mayur Channagere, eternalising these moments was not just an interest, they were a calling. It is what made him give up his 13-year corporate career to explore a passion for photography. Today as the owner of PhotoMojo, Mayur captures a myriad moments, whether it is a maestro in concert, a spectacular sunrise, the minutiae of raindrops, the special moment when a couple says “I do”, or just humanity in all its extraordinary ordinariness.
Mayur’s first brush with what was to become a life-long passion was first ignited when his grandfather gifted him a 25-year-old Yashica - FX3 film camera, bought during a visit to Germany. From that day, Mayur’s love for the medium grew with each picture offering its own aha moment. “I was never a creative guy, I tired my hand at learning music, painting, etc., but photography was the one medium through which I was able to express myself. Over a period of time, I realised that by capturing moments for others, I was able to fill the void that was there in my life,” says Mayur of the early days. “My first picture is called Eyes, taken in Bangalore City market, of an old man sitting in an old yellow and black Ambassador taxi.”
But despite discovering his passion early, Mayur set on a conventional path and pursued an MBA in the UK, followed by a brief spell with the NHS. He then returned to India and worked at HTMT, ACS and for Infosys’ Procurement vertical. “My work involved working in procurement solutions for our clients related to operations, implementation and working with cross-functional teams, focusing on implementation and transition. Sitting in once place and coding was never my thing, and my job at Infosys gave me the variety and an opportunity to travel, and I loved it!” remembers Mayur. The excitement of a new project or client every quarter, the opportunity to interact with some of the top CXOs, and frequent international travel made his job enjoyable, and even enviable!
Mayur continued to pursue photography on the side, supported by fantastic bosses who understood his passion and encouraged him to pursue it. Deciding to make the leap to full-time shutterbug was not an easy decision, but one he discussed at length with his wife Priya. The couple worked together to set the plan in motion by saving money, employing the services of financial planning professionals to plan and maintain a finance portfolio, so that even if it took time to book a job as a professional photographer, their quality and standard of living would not be compromised. The pivotal moment, which also shortened their expected timeframe, was the offer of an onsite posting in the US. “That was the turning point where I had to take a call. If I opted for the US job, my dream of giving photography a shot as a full time career would remain a dream. I decided to follow my heart and give it a shot for a year and see where it would lead us.”
In spite of having the backing of his entire family, and the unstinting support and partnership of his wife - who even made cold calls and got him his initial few gigs, Mayur says, “There have been nights when I would wake up in cold sweat wondering if quitting was the right step.” Relatives would call and jokingly ask him: “Are you going to take pictures at a wedding or will you open a studio and take passport pictures?” But, they still supported him no matter what, and he says, these family members are also his best brand ambassadors.
“Also, my father set a few rules, given that he comes from a business background. He told me to never underestimate my work and most importantly, value my work and time.” Going into a service-oriented business meant he would be asked to do the job for free or give discounts. His father cautioned him to never do that. “Especially when it comes to family and friends. If they are true well-wishers, they will pay the full price, or even more if you deliver good work,” were his father’s words of wisdom.
For the first two years, Mayur worked out of coffee shops or home. But, he realised that to create a lasting brand, he had to build one first. Today, six years after that epiphany, PhotoMojo’s list of clients reads like a who’s who list – from Fortune 500 companies to Vogue and Rolling Stones Magazine, and musical greats like Iron Maiden, Aerosmith, A R Rahman, and the late Pandit Ravi Shankar, to name a few. Sought after for weddings, fashion and lifestyle events, interiors, food and product shoots, as well as portraits alongside his work for corporates, Mayur’s life embodies the #PassiontoPaycheck journey!
Today, Photomojo offers photography, videos and production, and under the banner Luxveda, it also offers branding and creative services in brand and visual consulting. “What started with photography is today a full-fledged agency, a one stop solution for all visual requirements,” says Mayur proudly. He credits his fantastic team who are willing to go the extra mile, and who have a strong belief in the overall vision of the brand, for reaching where they are today.
Mayur believes that we are all visual storytellers, and that a good photograph has a human touch. “Take pictures because you enjoy the process not because you will get likes. If you post a picture online that you think is your favourite and you don’t get any reaction, don't be disheartened; on the contrary, be elated for you have created a style that you like and that is your signature.”
Both his daughters Isshani (10) and Gitanjali (5) have shown a keen interest in photography, and Isshani has accompanied him on couple of assignments, and both girls already display composition skills and take pictures that would do a qualified adult proud. And just like his father before him, Mayur is instilling certain values in them. “As a rule, they get 36 exposure a week, they are not allowed to delete, and they can’t exceed that number. By doing so they are very careful about what they shoot.” The proud father admits that the smile on their faces when they know they’ve nailed a shot is priceless. But, whether they pursue their father’s passion, or not, is completely up to them. In the meantime, Mayur’s advice to all aspiring photographers is this: “Follow your heart, practice every day, and fame and money will follow.”