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License to Shoot

A career in photography is a chance to pursue your hobby AND make money while doing it.

In India, a photographer has a very down market image, largely due to ignorance. A photographer here is one who either takes passport photographs or is into wedding photography. This is a gross misconception as there are a number of different areas where photographers can find work:

Advertising
Print media is one of the most effective ways of advertising products, which means the photographer is always going to needed in the ad world.

Fashion
One of the most sought after specializations in this field, fashion photography is a very challenging and dynamic field where the photographer has to document the current trends in clothes, foot wear, accessories etc.

Stock Photography
Photographs of different places, people, nature, wildlife, sports etc can be sold as stock as different firms require pictures for use in their product packaging, calendars, and brochures.

Food and Beverage industry
From five star restaurants to small time cafeterias, each of them needs pictures to publicize their food. There are also food magazines that require food to be shot in a creative ways.

Architecture and Interiors
This involves shooting both internal and external photographs of buildings (hotels, residential buildings, commercial outlets, offices, monuments etc).

“Be hardworking and persevere. Look where others are not looking. There are plenty of opportunities to find work. Photojournalism, wedding photography and child photography are some areas those starting their careers can break into.”
P K BHATIA, Photography instructor, Indo-American Society

Industrial
Documentation of the industry viz. machinery, premises, assembly line, etc. Other avenues include Photo Journalism, Fine art photography, Quality wedding portrait photography, Sports photography, Forensic, Medical etc.

Tips for freshers
“Those who train under a particular photographer will end up learning only a particular kind of work. They may also be subject to the idiosyncrasies of the photographer. The advantage of doing a formal course is that you are exposed to all the different types of photography.

You do specialize in one field but say a particular field is going through a bad phase, you are not left rudderless as you have other avenues to work in. And as it is a formal course, you are not subject to the mood swings of your teacher. Doing a course enables one to decide which area they would work best in.

For eg, some students want do fashion photography but can’t hold the camera straight when they see a beautiful woman. Others who want to do hardcore industrial photography are such good talkers that they end up being very good people photographers.”
Girish Mistry

“Do a course to gain the fundamentals of the equipment. If that’s not possible, work under a photographer to learn the ropes. Then pick a subject and just start shooting.”
Chetan Thakker

Shari Academy
Course offered: Master craftsman Diploma. Short term courses and workshops are also offered.
Duration: 2 years, 5 semesters
Course fees: Rs 2 lacs
Address: New Mahalaxmi Mills Premises, Mathuradas Mill Compound, N. M. Joshi Marg, Lower Parel (West), Mumbai 400 013. Tel: 022 – 5666 2230
Web site: www.shariacademy.com
Head of faculty: Mr Girish Mistry
Indian Photo Academy
Course offered: Basic and Advanced courses in Photography
Duration: 1 1/2 months
Course fees: Rs 2000
Address: Studio IPA, 5 Shankar Nivas, Dadasaheb Rege Marg, Shivaji Park, Road No. 3, Opp. Shiv Sena Bhavan, Dadar, Mumbai -400 028
Tel: 022 – 24452977
Head of Faculty: Mr Vishwas Morye
   
Indo American Society
Course offered: Basic Photography
Duration: 8 weeks
Course fees: Rs 2200
Address: Kitab Mahal, 5 D. Sukhadwala Marg, Fort, Mumbai – 400 00. Tel: 022 – 2207 4882 / 2207 4883
E-mail : indam@vsnl.com
Web site:www.indoamericansociety.org/Course/
Head of faculty: Mr P K Bhatia
Light and Life Academy, Ooty – India’s first photography college, sponsored by Kodak, Canon, Epson, Mahindra & Mahindra and other such big names.
Course offered: Diploma in Professional Photography. Short term courses and workshops are also offered.
Duration: 2 Years
Course fees: Rs 6.3 lacs
Tel: 0423 – 2517370
Web site: www.LLAcademy.org
   
LS Raheja School of Art
Course offered: Certificate Course in Photography
Duration: 1 year. Classes are held in the evening.
Course Fees: Rs 10,200
Address: St. Martin Rd, Bandra (W), Mumbai 400 050
Tel: 022- 2642 1728
Sir JJ Institute of Applied Arts, Mumbai
Course Offered: Photography is one of the elective subjects in the 4 year Commercial Art course. They also have a 1 year Certificate course in Photography.
Qualification: 10 + 2
Course fees: n.a.
   
Empire Institute of Learning Mumbai
Course offered: Certificate course in Photography
Duration: 1 year
Course Fees: Rs 65,000
Tel: 022 – 24964203
Head of faculty: Mr Haider Khan
Photograph Society of India (PSI) Mumbai
Course offered: Basic course in Photography
Duration: 3 months. Classes are held in the evening.
Course Fees: Rs 1800
Tel: 022 – 22664296
Head of faculty: Mr R J Mehta

Questions & Answers
JAM caught up with Girish Mistry (Shari Academy), P K Bhatia (Indo-American society), Fawzan Hussain, photojournalist with India Today and photographer Chetan Thakker to ask them about how one can started in the field.

Which basic camera do you recommend one start with?
“For the serious amateur photographer, I recommend the Nikon FM10, which is both affordable (the price varies between Rs 10,000 – 12,000) and easy to use. The only drawback is that as the back of the camera is rubber coated, it tends to get sticky and needs to be cleaned quite often,” says Chetan Thakker. The Nikon FM10 also gets Girish Mistry’s seal of approval.

“It’s a really good camera,” he says. “The current trend is to go in for an automatic camera which comes with manual settings. The Nikon F65 and the Canon EOS30, costing around Rs 15,000 are also recommended.” P K Bhatia feels that automatic cameras are a strict no-no for learners: “Anyone who wants to learn photography should buy a manual SLR (single lens reflex) camera with a zoom lens of 28-80mm, which can cost between Rs 7,000 and 12,000 depending on the model. A point-and-shoot camera is not advisable as the photographer has no control over the settings. If you can’t control the camera yourself, you won’t be able to learn how to use it.

Among the manual cameras, the Nikon FM10 is good. However, the Minolta X370 (Rs 9,000) is recommended for it has a number of additional features such as aperture priority mode.” “The market in Mumbai is dominated by Nikon,” says Fawzan Hussain. “I personally feel that Canon is a better make but it is more expensive and not as easily available. However, in my opinion, the camera does not matter that much, it is the person behind the camera that’s important.”

“Those who train under a particular photographer will end up learning only a particular kind of work. They may also be subject to the idiosyncrasies of the photographer. The advantage of doing a formal course is that you are exposed to all the different types of photography. You do specialize in one field but say a particular field is going through a bad phase, you are not left rudderless as you have other avenues to work in. And as it is a formal course, you are not subject to the mood swings of your teacher. Doing a course enables one to decide which area they would work best in. For eg, some students want do fashion photography but can’t hold the camera straight when they see a beautiful woman. Others who want to do hardcore industrial photography are such good talkers that they end up being very good people photographers.”
Girish Mistry

How much money will one spend on developing in the learning stage?
“In the learning stage, one does not do as much developing to necessitate buying your own equipment. I suggest getting your film developed at a small professional lab instead. Nowadays, most people use digital cameras and go in for digital processing anyway,” says Girish Mistry.

Both Chetan Thakker and P K Bhatia say that for amateurs, learning how to develop B & W photographs is good enough as it is easier and more economical. Chetan Thakker says: “It’s very difficult to develop color photographs at home. We teach students how to develop B & W photographs where the basic requirements are running water, a completely dark room, a red light, a developing tank and a developing kit.” “We teach B & W developing at Indo-American. It’s very easy to do. The developing tank costs Rs 600 while the cost of developing an individual roll of film is only Rs 8,” informs P K Bhatia.

Fawzan Hussain estimates a bare minimum expenditure of Rs 2,000-2,500 a month for learners. “This would cover the cost of approximately 8 rolls of film and developing charges. Setting up one’s own developing room requires a massive investment and does not make sense in the initial stage. Places like the PSI offer the use of their developing labs for a small cost; photographers have to buy their own chemicals and paper.”

“A lot of beginners can’t sustain the initial period where costs are high and income is low. It can take anything from 6 months to 2 years to find your bearings in this field. So ‘Be Patient’ is my advice for those starting out.”
Fawzan Hussain

What qualities do you look for in an apprentice?
“First and foremost, they should be teachable – there are some students who read a couple of books and think they know more than you do; there are others who expect to learn photography in the typical 9 to 5 environment. Secondly, they should be passionate about photography; not necessarily creative but passionate as I believe creativity, contrary to what some feel, can be taught.

Last but certainly not least, they must hardworking,” says Girish Mistry. An apprentice must possess a keen sense of one’s surroundings feels P K Bhatia.” He or she must be observant and alert. He should have his eyes and ears open at all times.” Chetan Thakker looks for three things. – enthusiasm, sincerity and hard work. In my personal experience, girls tend to make better apprentices than guys.” An inner drive is what Fawzan Hussain would want in an apprentice. “They should be driven and energetic as photojournalism requires one to run around from place to place to cover different events.”

Intro by Badarinath
Interviews by Amit Gurbaxani

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