'Don't Compare Your Work With Others, Everyone Is Different' - Vaishnavi Kalyanam

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1. Tell us about your background and journey.

Hi, my name is Vaishnavi Kalyanam. I’m a photographer based in Chicago. My photography journey is definitely interesting to say the least. I started off doing freelance photography and taking any gig I could think of, I started off lost, I didn’t know what type of photography I wanted to focus on until I started visiting India more often.

I started focusing on street photography and I instantly fell in love. That became my focus and later on it turned into photojournalism. My two series- “What we don’t see” and “Celebration” showcase some of my best works that I’m super proud of.

I entered a few of the pictures into some contests and ended up earning awards for them. I later went to school for photojournalism and slowly started to lose my passion for it. I felt lost once again and didn’t think photography was worth it.

I started to compare my work to other people’s works and slowly started to let everyone’s opinions get to me. Two things that I would constantly hear we’re “you’re stupid for majoring in photography” and “my iPhone can take better pictures” these statements have haunted me for the longest time, especially when I heard it from people close to me.

The irony is the people who said these things would still ask me for free photo shoots. I heard so many negative things about my decision to major in photography that I just completely fell out of love with it and decided to give it up completely.

I took a year long break from photography until a close friend of mine encouraged me to get back into it. I focused on portraiture photography and instantly fell back in love with the medium. This was only a month ago so my photography journey is still ongoing but I’m excited to see what the future holds.

2. How and when did you realize your passion for photography?

I realized my passion for photography when I was 17. I was visiting some family in India and me and my dad were on our way back from a friend’s place. We took a rickshaw and I was trying to get this specific picture of the rickshaw but I just couldn’t get it.

I was getting frustrated and started spamming the shoot button on my camera hoping I could finally get it. I never did, but instead I accidentally took a picture ten times better than the one I wanted. That’s when I knew I loved photography.

3. What are some tips you would like to share with amateur photographers?

The best advice I could give to new photographers is do NOT compare your work to other people’s works. Every photographer is different and they have their own styles. Also accept Constructive criticism & don’t let just flat out rude comments about your work get to you. Constructive criticism is where someone wants you to improve your work, anything rude is when a person just wants to bring you down.

4. What are the important skills one should have to be a successful photographer?

Time management is definitely an important skill to have as a photographer. There are going to be days where you have multiple shoots so you need to learn how to prioritize and carefully plan out your day.

Also you need to be hard working and determined. Photography is fun but there are going to be times where things don’t go your way. You need to be able to think on your feet and solve problems fast.

5. What are various opportunities available for aspiring photographers?

A lot of people say photography is a dead career, but I don’t think that’s true at all. Photos are everywhere and that’s never going to change. There’s a lot of different types of photography, from commercial to wedding to portraits. Almost every field has a need for a photographer.

There are a lot of opportunities for photographers, but you need to have the determination to find them. It’s a flexible medium, You can open your own studio or partner with a company’s marketing team to help create content for them, just to name a few opportunities. Personally, I want to go the commercial route in the future.

6. Which is your favorite book and why?

My favorite book is The Kite Runner because of the themes it focuses on. I think it does a great job at showing how class systems and war can have a significant impact on children growing up.

Vaishnavi Kalyanam
Instagram - https://www.instagram.com/vaish.photo/

Interview by - Raminder Singh

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