Photography Pushed Me to Be Creative and Go Out of My Comfort Zone - Abhishek Khanna

Abhishek Khanna is a self-taught Food Stylist and a Commercial Photographer based in Gurgaon, India. He is also associated with Canon India as their official brand influencer for their EOS range. Abhishek Khanna specializes in Food, Product, Concept and Table Top photography. 

In 2017, after a career spanning 15 years in verticals such as Operations, Design, Product Management and Manufacturing, Abhishek's passion for photography led him to leave his corporate life and follow what he loves doing.

1. Tell us about your background and journey.

I started working when I was still in college and was always keen to work in a corporate environment. Before taking up photography as a profession I have worked for 15-16 years across various domains.

I started out as a telemarketing executive selling credit cards over the phone, gradually moving towards other roles in the BPO industry. I have even worked in the furniture industry for some years and then finally working in the banking technology sector before taking up photography as a profession.

In my previous role, I was working as a Senior Product Manager for a tech start-up in Gurgaon. Since I started working very early i.e. during my college time, I never could give time to my college and did not complete my graduation even though I attended full three years of it.

All that I have worked so far has been through self-learning, my previous role required me to design processes and user experience around products, which again I did through self-learning and without any formal training/education. Even photography and food styling is something in which I have no formal education/training.

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

Due to some unplanned circumstances, I had to leave my job in 2016. After leaving it, I had planned to travel across Rajasthan covering it by road for 3-4 weeks. That trip was a welcoming break for me as I got time for myself and to think about what I wanted to do next.

I did a lot of photography on that trip. Initially, I was not sure whether to look for a new job or to do something of my own. Once this doubt was clear that I did not want to get back to a corporate role, I spent some time contemplating what I wanted to do now.

For doing something of my own, I wanted to take up a profession which would drive me every time I do it. I always had an inclination towards writing and photography. I realised photography pushed me to be creative and out of my comfort zone.

I realised it was my true calling and then I made up my mind to follow it professionally too. In early 2017 I took a co-working space near my house and started working on it.

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

I always say if it really means that much to you, pursue it. The more you do the more you will figure out if it is actually meant for you or not. Try to learn as much as you can, learning is a never-ending process. It's ok to make mistakes and admit them, but learn from them and improve.

When I look back at my work from a few years or even weeks, I can actually notice how it has gradually progressed/improved. Do not take up assignments just for the sake of it, but only when you feel you can do justice to the work and deliver well.

Having said that, also take up all kinds of assignments that come your way initially, the objective should be to learn as much as you can and then, later on, start working towards developing a particular genre.

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

Of course, you have to be good with your work which goes without saying. However, there is an equally balanced need for being good in dealing with your clients. A good photographer can be successful when they can ascertain the needs of their clients and deliver more than they expected.

Always be clear with your communication and deliver what you promised, honour your timelines and commitments. Continue to do hard work and always give your best, everything else is then just a by-product of your efforts and will follow eventually.

5. What are various opportunities available for aspiring photographers?

There are definitely opportunities. With the sudden surge in online usage, the need for content has risen. The transition from print to digital has opened up a lot of avenues in terms of reaching out to people, content creation, marketing products, etc.

Online mediums have a rapid reach compared to print and make the connectivity between the consumer and the provider easier. The need for visuals and digital content will only increase.

6. Which is your favourite book and why?

I am not much into books and have fairly spent time on mediums which are more visually communicative than being verbal as I consider them easier to grasp. The only book that I have read completely is Myth-Mithya by Devdutt Patnaik.

However, for a very long time I have been considering reading Bhagavad Gita, I took the step of buying it but yet to take the step of reading it, I think it will come to me when I am ready.

Interview By - Geetika Bali

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