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Engineering a picture-perfect life

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17th International Conference for Women Engineers and Scientists (ICWES17) – New Delhi, 5th-7th October, 2017

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The Hindu | Aswin V.N.| Thiruvananthapuram |  January 19, 2017 |

Meet the engineering graduates from the city who chose to be photographers and cinematographers

Hareesh Jayakumar is an in-house photographer for a travel agency in Bangalore. But his relatives and acquaintances still ask him why he didn’t find a “proper” job after his B.Tech. “Many people are still sceptical about ‘photography’ being a serious job. They don’t understand when I say being a full-time photographer is a profession,” he says. Hareesh is not alone on the list of engineering graduates who focussed on photography as a profession. Peer pressure, parental expectations and so on are some of the reasons that push youngsters into engineering colleges. It is while doing the course that they realise that their heart is in photography and engineering comes a distant second or third.

So it was with Aswin Nandakumar, Anand G. Iyer, Prajith John and Hareesh.

However, in Aswin’s case, he was pretty sure engineering was not his field much before joining the college! “I wanted to do some course in Visual Communication, but I couldn’t find a course in Kerala that met my expectations. So my parents suggested that I do my graduation “in something” and then do my post-graduation in whatever I wished to learn,” recalls Aswin. While doing his B.Tech, he got the opportunity to work in a film, and that turned his interest in cinematography into an ambition. “I got to know a lot about the technicalities of cinematography and decided that is what I wanted to do. I met cinematographer S. Kumar who advised me to learn cinematography from an institute if I was serious about taking it up to earn a livelihood,” he says. After finishing engineering, he joined Chennai Film Institute to learn cinematography. He is currently assisting Roby Raj in Mammootty-starrer The Great Father.

In the case of Anand, the turning point was when he realised that he was happiest when he was clicking snaps. “I realised the best thing is to do what you love because ultimately happiness and peace of mind is more important than money, and the one thing I enjoyed doing was photography,” says Anand.

After his graduation, he, Hareesh and another engineering graduate Sabari began city-based ‘The Storytellers’, a wedding photography company, in 2013. He dreams of venturing into filmmaking one day. “A popular joke making the rounds is that you realise your true calling only after studying a bit of engineering. It was true in my case. It was only after I joined and spent some time studying, I realised that engineering was not as easy as I thought it would be,” Prajith admits with a chuckle.

Halfway through the course, he found that photography was his vocation. With his parents’ blessings, he turned to his camera to hone his skills as a lensman. By the end of his four years at the engineering college, he was earning a good sum every month from portfolio and event shoots. At present, he is a well-paid portfolio and wedding photographer for a media production company in Bangalore. Was it easy for them to follow their hearts and to take a leap of faith? Nope. “Photography as a hobby and being a pro are two entirely different things. You won’t get paid much in the beginning and there will be a lot of naysayers. You just have to stick to your decision,” says Hareesh. Even with the support of family and friends, Prajith says, he found the going tough when things were not panning out in the way he expected it to. “Initially, regular shows in college as well as in the city gave me lot of opportunities. Bands like ‘Pentagram’and ‘Agni’ bought some of the photographs that I took during their concerts for the college cultural fest. That was a real boost to my confidence,” adds Hareesh.

He tried his hand at different kinds of photography including a short stint in a commercial studio in Dubai. These shutterbugs constitute a small tribe of youngsters who saw their dreams through. There are many who didn’t make it. “Very few would risk turning their passion for photography into a profession especially when you have a choice to settle down with a regular office job. I know many serious shutter-bugs who eventually had to settle for a regular job,” says Aswin.  But Hareesh believes things are changing and the trend of youngsters pursuing photography as a career is growing. He adds, “ Once you decide this is what you want to do, start treating it as a serious profession and respect it.” –  Courtesy

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