5 Lessons We Learnt On Following Dreams From Documentary Photographer Soumya Sankar Bose
28-year old Soumya Sankar Bose quit engineering to pursue a career in photography, telling stories of people in India who’ve been forgotten or shunned by the society. Here’s what we learnt from his inspiring career journey.
At 28, Soumya Sankar Bose has several achievements under his belt. He has been named under the Forbes ’30 under 30′ Special Mentions list. His work has been featured in publications such as the New York Times and BBC News and exhibited at several photography exhibitions and festivals such as Delhi Photo Festival, Photo Kathmandu, and Sepia Eye. He has received the exclusive and prestigious Magnum Foundation grant back-to-back for two years and the India Foundation for the Arts grant twice.
Here are five lessons we learnt on following your dreams and building your career from this incredible photographer’s career journey -
1. You Can Chase Your Passions Even If You’re In The Wrong Profession Right Now
Coming from a middle class family in the small town of Midnapore in West Bengal, Soumya’s parents had decided that pursuing a degree in engineering was the best career option for him. So, just like millions of other young Indians, he took up engineering. While he wasn’t interested in the course at all, it brought him to a big city like Kolkata where he made new connections and came across new career options. After trying a little bit of everything, he realised that he wanted to be a photographer as it was the best medium to express what he wanted to say. It’s never too late to find and chase your passions.
2. You Don’t Need A Degree To Be Successful
He enrolled in a photography course in Pathshala, but didn’t finish it due to his circumstances. He had to learn the photography techniques and how to edit and produce photographs on his own. But that didn’t stop him and he transformed this situation to an opportunity by using it to forge his own unique identity. As a result, his work stands out. Few years down the line, he received grants to continue his work and recognition both nationally and internationally for his finished works. So yes, you don’t need a degree to be successful in your chosen career.
3. Language Isn’t A Barrier To Chasing Your Dreams
Having studied at a government school in Midnapore, Soumya’s English skills were quite basic. In fact, he wrote his first-ever grant proposal to the Indian Foundation for the Arts (IFA) in Bengali, his mother tongue. Luckily, the IFA accepted his proposal in Bengali and then translated it to English. They unofficially sent his proposal to a legendary photographer publicly well-renowned for her work. She found his proposal to be the only believable proposal in India and loved it. And Soumya got the grant. This story is proof of the fact that if you truly want something, you find a way to achieve it.
4. You Can Become A Successful Photographer At 28
The first project that Soumya Sankar Bose worked on became really popular and was featured by news publications like the BBC News, The Caravan, Indian Express, among others. His second project received the prestigious and exclusive Magnum Foundation grant for photojournalists. This project was featured on publications like The New York Times, Time, Huffington Post, and many more. Today, Soumya gets paid to be featured, to travel and do his work, do exhibitions and talk about his work. If you really work for something, you will achieve success.
5. Focus And Patience Are The Keys To Achieving Success In Any Career
According to Soumya, any aspiring photographer should be focused on achieving what he/she truly wants.
He says - “Many times, I see engineers in Kolkata and Mumbai wanting to be photographers just because they’re bored with engineering.That shouldn’t be the only reason. You have to really want it and stay focused on your goals.”
He advises everyone to believe in themselves and chase after what they truly want. The second crucial factor to achieving success is patience. Soumya received his first grant after waiting for 6-8 months. Prior to that, he spent a year taking odd jobs as an assistant photographer, wedding photographer, portrait photographer in Kolkata to make ends meet. Being patient is essential to achieving success as things don’t happen overnight.
There is no tried and tested formula to following your passion and becoming successful. However, these five tips should serve as great life lessons for anyone chasing their dreams.
Whatever you’re trying to achieve, it’s doable. So go get it!
This article has been written based on an original and exclusive interview with Soumya Sankar Bose.
You can read the original interview here.
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