Be Professional in Your Approach to Clients - Dr. Siddharth Thota

Creativity, attention to detail and patience are the essential skills that a successful photographer should have in their repertoire apart from the technical knowledge about photography.

1. Tell us about your Background and Journey. 

My obsession with photography began when I was in 7th grade. We went on a family trip, and I took a picture of my parents with a KODAK film camera. They loved it so much that my father got it framed. Slowly, my interest in photography started to grow. After a few years, we upgraded from an analogue camera to a SONY point and shoot camera. I used to grab the camera and sneak out to photograph anything that piqued my curiosity. 

I used this digital camera for almost three years and also took some photographs on my first smartphone. My first hands-on experience with a DSLR camera was during my 1st year of Dental studies, we trekked to Nandi Hills, and I got to use a friend's DSLR (Sony α58). 

I became hooked almost instantly with the technology and the amount of control over the situation a DSLR offers when compared to a point and shoot camera, which is mostly in auto mode. That was my moment of epiphany, and I didn't even know what an aperture, shutter speed, or ISO was at that time, but it didn't matter. 

I decided to learn the fundamentals of photography and started with some youtube tutorials and borrowed my roommate's camera during my free time. After a few weeks of watching tutorials and reading online articles, I volunteered to photograph the events that happened in our college. 

I captured several events such as Preoperative and Post-operative procedures, college fests and also learned making short-films. I won the best photographer of the year competition at college for three years in a row. 

I would like to thank my mentor Mr Shiva B.K. Kumar (Cinematographer), for his invaluable guidance and motivation. Besides photography, my interests also lie in stand-up comedy and mimicry. I am also passionate about acting and got to do theatre (OSAGE) during my 2nd year of BDS. 

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

I believe that my curiosity to use the camera was the main factor that cultivated photography as my hobby. I never took any classes in particular about photography. It was my experience in the field that shaped me into what I am today. With a camera in my hand, I look at the world differently. 

I started noticing the subtle aspects of photography and appreciate the amount of intellectual work that goes into making a perfect picture. My family and friends were fascinated by the unusual things that I noticed through my viewfinder. 

In 2016, my parents and sister understood my deep-rooted passion for photography and gifted me with a Canon 7D Mark ii. I was elated with joy and took it as a responsibility to capture better pictures, which has been my constant source of motivation to satiate my thirst for becoming a better photographer and filmmaker. 

It was at the same time that I got introduced to the beautiful world of flora and fauna through Dr Nagaraj C.S., who is a great bird photographer and also our family doctor. Special thanks to my friends Sharath and Pruthvi, who helped me to move out of the concrete jungle on weekends and holidays for bird sightings.

Since it was hard to find beautiful birds amidst the busy streets of Bengaluru, I started exploring other forms of photography (weddings, portraits and short-films). In the year 2018, a simple talk with Mr Pradyumna at a Coffee Day lead to the formation of our company SYNCAdvert (Photography and Film-making). 

Though I was pursuing my Bachelor's degree in Dental surgery, Our passion for photography set us on this venture and have now completed 100+ projects spread across weddings, ad-commercials, events, maternity and newborn photography. I'm happy that I am involved in the business of creating smiles, being a dentist and a photographer. 

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

My tips to amateur photographers are not to worry about their success or failure in capturing the perfect picture. One should not stay stagnant but keep working towards becoming a better photographer than they were the previous day. 

There is always more to learn in this field. If you feel not so motivated or running out of ideas, think back to when you were a kid or the first time you held a camera. What good things are there around the corner to capture? What adventure would that curiosity take you on today? So charge your batteries, pick up your gear and fall in love with photography all over again! 

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

As photography has become more popular and the fact that anyone with a camera can take pictures means you'll have to stand out in some way or another to be noticed. 

Creativity, attention to detail and patience are the essential skills that a successful photographer should have in their repertoire apart from the technical knowledge about photography. 

Just as an aspiring musician must first be adept in the instrument he or she uses for composition, so must you become proficient in the gear you use. In this case, cameras, lenses, tripods, lights, and all the other physical equipment you might use. 

Having good attention to detail when taking photographs is crucial – you need to be able to capture light and colour and think carefully about all components of each image. This step will also help you in your composition. 

The word photography has an etymological meaning, which is drawing with light. Sound knowledge of light and its behaviour is the central aspect when it comes to creating successful pictures or portraits. 

Lighting also determines the tone, mood and ambience. Therefore it is necessary to control and manipulate light correctly to get the best exposure on your subjects. You could sneak into any situation and come away with a little slice of the moment to carry with you with these skills. 

You'll also need post-production skills to make your work stand out in this digital era. I would also suggest developing soft skills, such as strong networking and team working. 

Be professional in your approach to clients and have good ethical values in your business. It's the best thing you can do to get opportunities. Believe in yourself and be consistent. 

5. What are the various opportunities available for aspiring photographers? 

You don't need a special degree to become a professional photographer. Many of the top-selling photographers in the world are self-taught. Most of us have simply developed skills using professional equipment and then began taking pictures. 

One can get into a portrait, street and travel photography and sell your images online. With some professional gear that is also available on a rental basis, it is possible to get into weddings, fashion, events and wildlife photography. 

With the help of a few certification courses from recognized institutions, one can also get into the film industry. 

The food industry also offers you a chance to get into food photography and photograph regularly at restaurants and clubs. Also, there are various untapped areas in the field of photography in India. For example, dental photography is a very niche area that many do not know. 

6. Which is your favourite book, and why? 

Indica: A Deep Natural History of the Indian Subcontinent in which Pranay G Lal has presented India's natural history from pre-historic times to us as a gripping story with a smooth and witty style. A few places have also been quoted with references to Bollywood movies such as 'Sholay,' where the character sambha sat in one of the scenes. There are several such instances where we can easily relate to.

Interview by - Khushi

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