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‘I make memories with my camera’

Chirag Patnaik, a freelance photographer and Apeejay Noida alumnus explains how he realised his true calling for photography during his schools days

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An alumnus of Apeejay School, Noida, Chirag Patnaik is a freelance photographer. In the initial years of his career itself, he had worked with reputed brands such as Manish Malhotra and Taj Hotels, among others. In an interesting interview, Chirag reveals what all it takes to be a professional photographer and also advises students to take photography as a profession, only if it is more than a hobby for them. Edited excerpts:

Please tell us about your work profile as a professional photographer?

It has been a very enriching experience so far. It’s a very different field when compared with  other conventional career options. After school, I did a two-year diploma course in photography and then started out as a commercial photographer. Photography gives you a very different exposure. As a freelance photographer, I meet ten different brands in a month. In fact, meeting different CEOs, CFOs and other experts from varied fields is a great experience in itself. So technically, I am an entrepreneur.

Please tell us about some of your best memories from your school days?

I was already a budding photographer in my school. I would shoot the annual day ceremonies and all the grand events. I used to always be there with my camera. My teachers always supported me. I also received some skeptical glances about photography being a full-time profession. But I had many good teachers who encouraged me a lot. I created innumerable good memories with my camera during my school days. One can say, I make memories with my camera.  

What inspired you to become a photographer?

My mother is a professional artist herself. She is into painting, art and craft as well as interior designing. She is also a teacher and teaches students from all over the globe. She has students ranging from five-year-old kids to even elderly people. She was my inspiration to take up something like this as my profession. She had bought a camera for herself but I ended up using it too much. And I figured that photography is my true calling. As I just mentioned, I used to cover a lot of school events, so everyone knew me as the guy with the camera. It became a part of my identity.

What is the best thing about being a freelance photographer?

It is the kind of freedom that I have. I can work as much as I want and I am my own boss since it’s my business venture. I can choose my working days and can freely take a holiday when convenient to me. Photography has been a very creative process. On every shoot, with every new day, it’s a completely new journey. I meet so many new faces every day, and it’s certainly very exciting.

How did Apeejay Noida help you to realise your passion for photography?

At school, I used to do a lot of portraits of my classmates, batchmates and even of a few seniors. I would also be a part of the computer synopsis ‘Code’ events. The last 3-4 years of my school life, I was massively engaged in it. I became the director of Code and would go for many inter-school events.  All these helped me identify my passion and polish myself as a photographer.  

What advice would you like to give to a budding photographer at school?

Firstly, you need to have an eye for photography. It should be your passion. Photography is a very vast thing, a lot of things are involved in it. If you are genuinely passionate about it and it’s not a mere hobby for you, then only take it up as a profession.

It takes a lot of effort to be a photographer. In school, things are very different when compared to a photo-school. One should learn photography from a photo-school or should assist a professional photographer. You should get in touch with them, go on shoots and understand how things work. 

What are your future projects?

I am getting into the hotel business now, so I have been doing more architecture-based shoots. Of late, I have also been working with the advertising sector.

Arijit Roy is a young correspondent at Apeejay Newsroom. He has done his masters in English literature from Delhi University and has a book of poems published by Writers Workshop India. He can be reached at [email protected]

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