Nishant Verma, the photographer extraordinaire shares his dreams, aspirations and ideas for young photography enthusiasts in this heart felt interview.
Nishant, tell us a little about yourself? What were you as a child. Where and what do you study. What do you do now? Your dreams, life as a youngster, anything you like to share.
I wanted to be a cricketer all my life. I have grown up seeing Sachin Tendulkar bat and Saqlain mushtaq bowl. I use to eat sleep and dream cricket. It was my life, my girl friend my everything. I just couldn’t make it to the level where I could represent my country.
Life as a youngster wasn’t that easy for me. I saved money to buy my cricket kit. I used to walk till express building @ ITO everyday from my house at Kotla Road in New Delhi and then take a bus to Shalimar bagh @ 6:30 am then cricket practice at my school and then after school again practice at my club L B shastri @ Bharat Nagar.
I am a graduate in Zoology and surprisingly went on to do my post-graduation in Advertising and Public Relations from Indian Institute of Mass Communication, New Delhi in 2008. Through campus recruitment I got into Corporate Communication in a PSU under Govt. of India.
Photography keeps me kicking now.
When did you take your first picture? How old were you then or which year?
I don’t remember, may be when I was a kid with a film camera of those times.
Were you hooked instantly or did it take sometime for you to realize that this is what you really want to do?
It took its own sweet time.
When did you realize that you could make money with this thing?
When an Italian art collector bought my first photo. Also couple of NGOs showed interest in buying my photos but I decided to donate them for free. Many of my well-wishers still curse me for refusing the money as they couldn’t get the treat.
Is this the only thing that you do or you have a side gig? Or photography is your side gig?
I don’t know what to answer. The camera is with me almost 24 x 7. I don’t know if this is the side gig, or the permanent job that I do is a side gig to sustain for photography.
What thought comes to your mind – when you click a picture?
If my head is full of thoughts while clicking, I might not be able to click what I want to click. I prefer clicking natural shots.
What do you suggest to young photography enthusiasts – if they want to get going with it.
First understand your passion, photography is not a job, it is a form of expression. Money should not become the priority. It’s a necessity for sure, but if money is your priority then try something else and then do photography just as hobby. Later you may take it up professionally. Keep your eyes open and connect with the right people in any career.
What is more important for you – money or fame?
None of these. I want to be a person to whom people who matter to me will look up to, when they need any help. I don’t know if that is achieved by money or fame.
What is it like to meet the people behind the stories? Who is your favorite celebrity or famous that your work with? How was the experience?
Pakistani band Jal has played a big role in shaping my life post my college time. I lived my college days listening to their music and their songs inspired me as I could relate to them with my real life. I don’t see anyone as a celebrity, they all are human, its people who make them so called ‘celebrity’. Some are good individuals and some are not.
“First understand your passion, photography is not a job, it is a form of expression”.
How do you make your subjects comfortable?
Normally I prefer having a friendly conversation with most of the people who are involved in the shoot so that there is a positive atmosphere around.
Have you faced copyright challenges ever?
Yes! couple of times.
When you take a street shot – who holds the copyright? What about the person in the pic?
The copyrights always lies with the photographer, but with the consent (written) of the person being shot. But during street shots its not easy to always take written consents.
List 5 most important activities that an upcoming photographer should do on a regular basis. [ex, take photos, learn about the craft, being active of social networking communities – FB etc.)
Landscapes, Monuments and other static objects should be clicked either early morning or during the sunsets as the sky is likely to be more dramatic than late morning or afternoon.
Take photos but make the frame in your mind before clicking, take your time, visualize your shot even before clicking, look for expressions, social networking sites do help in spreading your work.
How do you do get (most of your) assignments?
Majorly online or through word of mouth.
Connections or craft – what matters more.
Both have their own importance.
How do you keep your new advances in photography – how do you keep yourself updated.
Internet is one great teacher in today’s time.
How do you describe your style of photography?
What are your best three tips for shooting street photography?
If possible carry a zoom lens where you are not too up close to the subject. Try to strike conversations with people you are clicking. try to be friends. Make them smile. Don’t click them against their will.
Did you take training to learn photography?
I took one session of ” know your camera” beginners class. Youtube is one of the biggest teacher in today’s time.
How long have you been a photographer?
Since 2010, I started calling myself a photographer, when I was nominated for the NatGeo Moment Awards.
What or who got you started in photography?
I think my first SLR and Dr. Kohli.
Please share your favorite images with the readers of Young and Shining?
Here you go……..
Kids at Majnu-ka-tilla
Shot for and Rights with – Italian Art Gallery
Kids in Turtuk
Nagas at Mahakumbh
“Bumblefoot” at Guns N’ Roses Concert
What camera/gear do you shoot with?
Canon 5D Mark II.
What was your first camera?
Canon 1000 D.
Did you buy it or was it gifted?
I bought it.
If you had to choose one lens which one would it be and why?
Canon 70-200 F2.8 IS II. It is amazing for portraits and street photography.
What lighting equipment do you take on a shoot?
I just have a Canon 580 EX II speedlite with a Canon ST2 transmitter.
Lens or light what is more important?
Both have their importance, but light is a necessity.
Mac or PC?
I work on PC so far but soon will be switch to a Mac.
How important is Photoshop/lightroom?
Its like polishing your own product. They have given a whole new spectrum to photography.
What gear or software is on your wishlist?
Couple of lenses.
Your favorite photographer/s?
Olivier Follmi and Steve McCurry. Sanjay Austa is one of my favorite travel photojournalists. Raghu Rai is everybody’s favorite and is a legend of Indian Photography.
Biggest learning of your life?
A learning is a learning.. every experience has been a learning.. I don’t know what is big or small..
Your advice to young people – something you wish you knew when you started.
Follow your passion, focus and work towards making it big. Try not to hurt anyone while doing it.
One unique thing about you – or a secret which not many people know about.
I am an open book, everyone who matters to me knows everything about me .. those who don’t exist in my life .. shall know nothing 😛