“Taking pictures is savouring life intensely, every hundredth of a second” - Mare Riboud
Do you think in fifty years, you would really care about those thousand of snapshots and selfies stored in your devices? Umm, I don’t think so.
For many of us, photography could just be a way of locking up a flood of good and bad memories; but for professionals, it is not just a form of art that they are passionate about, but also a career that makes them the most important person in their customers’ life. For a girl on her graduation ceremony, for a mother on her son’s wedding, or for a khala on her nephew’s first birthday ... no one could be as important as the photographer.
And most importantly, what sucks is that a lot of decisions we make in our life are on the basis of photographs we see. Few days ago, it was the image of a ginormous, scrumptious burger that compelled my friend to order. Sadly, on arrival, it was a teeny-tiny bite of a flavourless burger.
We had a chat with some brilliant young photographers to catch a glimpse of their world.
The tools of the trade
If some super famous photographers in workshops and conferences tell you all you need in life is a smartphone, don’t believe them. Smartphone is just the first step!
“I got a smartphone after completing school; since we travelled a lot during that time, I would take random pictures of flowers and other random things and this way I developed interest. Later on, when I started working as an art teacher, I got a SLR and then I bought a DSLR before getting into professional photography.
“The more professional you want to become the more sophisticated equipment you need. The client pays you so you have to invest in better equipment. A cheap camera or smartphone will not do the job here.” (Huma Ali, Huma Ali Photography)
“A smartphone never gives results equal to a camera! It’s obvious that with better equipment, you can take pictures in bigger frames and achieve a better depth of field effect. At professional level, like for commercial photography, equipment matters a lot. Imagine taking photos for billboard advertisement!
“A mobile can never capture photos at night! These days, companies offer smartphones that have great cameras; beginners can use them to learn framing and practice day-light photography only.” (Muhammad Burhan, Thumb Impression Photography)
Professional photography is a pricey affair! If you have a knack for photography, you can do really well in terms of business.
“We are usually advised not to take photography seriously because there isn’t enough money in the field. That’s why a lot of talented students either abandon photography, or just spend the rest of their life taking friends’ and family’s photos for free.
“We all have, at some point in time for the sake of better photos, suffered at the hands of photographers. Argh, you have to keep calm, treat them like royalty and pay them hefty fees!” (Anonymous)
A no-go area for girls
Girls, don’t listen to what society say. If photography is your thing, keep smashing it!
“Things have changed over the past few years! Now, there is more space for girls in fields that were supposed to be male-dominated.
“When I was starting out as a photographer, people would tell me this profession wasn’t for girls and I am just wasting my time here. Another thing that bothers me is idea of seeking permission from in-laws before pursuing a career that’s “not meant for girls”; I was asked to find out if my fiance would allow me to do professional photography. I have been working as a photographer for eight years and I am so glad to see more girls coming into photography.” (Huma Ali)
The blinding magic of filters
I am sure it is “suspension of disbelief”; when our photos come from the studio we feel like the most beautiful person on this earth! We are so busy in self-praise that we just don’t want to realize it’s not our original picture.
“Several filters and presets are applied on wedding photographs; then in Photoshop, we work on the backdrop and do detail editing. We do everything to satisfy our customers. Some customers are so concerned about their looks that they literally ask us to contour the face and remove blemishes and pimples from the face.
“The final picture a client gets in his/her hands is a highly refined version of the photo and this is what they want. I remember a little girl was brought to the studio for a school photograph. Without thinking too much about applying presets to the picture, we quickly took a print out and handed over to the parents. Next day, they came back saying their daughter is upset and doesn’t want to take the snaps to the school because she thought she wasn’t looking pretty in the picture.” (Anonymous)
The rishta hunting
Unfortunately, whether it is Tinder or a marriage bureau in our local context, it all starts with a beautiful picture, right?
“I have heard mothers advising their sons and daughters to treat photographers nicely because they could find them good proposals.
“It’s ridiculous how mothers come directly to me and ask if I knew someone suitable for their daughters or sons.” (Muhammad Burhan)
The power of ‘free’
Free stuff, sales and discounts make people crazy; it has always been such a powerful way of tricking customers into buying more and for people who are new in the market it is a great way of introducing your product to the customers and get known among the community.
“When I was an art teacher in a school, I would often take photos of the school events; the principal was so impressed by my work that I was asked to cover some of the grand events at my school. I did all that for free! But yes, I was given a lot of certificates and that meant a lot to me. In the beginning, all you need is acknowledgement to grow!
“Even after I got an expensive DSLR, I would do event, product and wedding photography for free; new photographers should take up as much work as possible to make contacts and expand their customer base.” (Huma Ali)
“I have seen professionals advising young photographers to compromise on their fees. I strongly believe that at the start of your career it doesn’t work! I remember charging only Rs200 for my first event coverage. Beginners should always start with lower rates so that they may get more opportunities to perfect their photography skills.” (Muhammad Burhan)
Landscape photography is even better
Wedding photography is not the only thing in the world! Don’t you want to see how beautiful Pakistan is?
“Landscape photography is one of the most difficult genres of photography. People in Pakistan don’t get this! As a landscape photographer whenever I try to sell my pictures I get to hear this: oh, it’s too expensive! It’s just a photo.
“There aren’t enough jobs for people who are interested in landscape photography or other genres. Unfortunately, a lot of young people are forced to get into wedding photography to earn money.
“For landscape photography, you need to be adventurous. I recently went on a Photography Expedition Trip to the northern Pakistan. At Deosai, the temperature was -5¡C and I had to wake up in the morning just before sunrise to take that one perfect shot of Nanga Parbat reflection in the Sheosar Lake. Similarly, at Fairy Meadows, I woke up right after the moonset to get the Milky Way shots around three in the morning and it was freezing. Landscape photography is a labour of love!” (Wajih Ahmed, Macro Maniac)
“At a wedding, I was taking portrait pictures when an ‘aunty’ came to me and said: you will go to hell for taking all these photos of people! You will get to hear such stupid things so just stay calm and do your work. You also have to be patient with khalas and phuppos who think their smartphone photography is more important and that makes it even more difficult for us to take photographs. Remember, patience is the key!” (Huma Ali)