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Aditya Mendiratta On Adjusting The Focal Length Of His Life To Photography

Aditya Mendiratta On Adjusting The Focal Length Of His Life To Photography

Good photographs are like good jokes, if you have to explain them, they aren’t good enough. It takes time to understand what to do with your life, the journey is beautiful but don’t be afraid of the time it takes. All you need is a push and a drive to motivate your inner soul and once you achieve that, life turns out to be magical. Meet Aditya Mendiratta who dared to listen to his inner soul, who focused in on his life and chose his actual calling, photography. Join him as he adjusts the focal length of his life and opens up in front of you.

Highlights of the episode

  • From leaving his career with Accenture to commencing with photography, it may not have been easy, but it was eventful.
  • To achieve some things in life, you have to let go of certain things, it is scary but it’s worth it.
  • Photography is an art of comfort, make the client comfortable as much as you can.
  • Perception is different for everyone, pictures speak differently with everyone.

Quotes and Takeaways

  • “I always keep a brief time before I click to ease the person in front of my camera.”
  • “Gear is important but it’s only something that compliments your idea and not generate it.”
  • “Everything that comes in your way will be part of something bigger that you will achieve.” 

How did you get from being an aspiring photographer to actually doing it full time, for a living?

I’ve always had a passion to capture moments and create. As a child I loved creating however creating visually never crossed my mind. This one time I dismantled my computer completely and re-assembled it in a different way. It wasn’t something very major and I was all but 12 at the time, but the amount of joy it brought me was priceless. Further on, I began dismantling and reassembling almost everything in my house. That’s a sneak peak on how I landed up in engineering.

Post engineering I was recruited by one of world’s largest consulting and solutions firms, Accenture. It wasn’t something I was expecting because of the disheartened way that I gave the interview. Simultaneously I got a job in a friend’s company for marketing their brand. I eventually landed up in Accenture and 2 years later when I began questioning my life, I ended up buying a DSLR to kill some time during weekends. It was only then when I realised how much I loved photography and how I finished rolls after rolls in my dad’s film camera. I started shooting concerts and parties throughout the weekend and one fine day I resigned from Accenture to take up photography full time.

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What it is you want to say with your photographs, and how do you actually get your photographs to do that?

For single images, I try to reveal a person’s soul through my image. It doesn’t take much planning but takes the right environment to be able to do that. For my photo stories there is a lot of planning that needs to be done because you have 3-5 images going through the same concept but in order and it has to be precisely done. From the location, selection of the right model and very importantly the lighting that adds the main drama. This all has to be planned before. I have to keep in mind the final output visually so that I am aware of the things that needs to be taken care before post production. In the end, I only title the project and not the images. I leave the rest to people’s imagination.

How do you get the person, place or thing that is in front of the camera onto the film, chip or paper in just the way you want?

There’s a lot I try to do and something that I cannot explain in a few lines here. But one thing that I always do is that I never immediately start shooting. I always keep a brief time before I click to ease the person in front of my camera, even if I know them well. It helps them get into the shooting mode. I don’t prefer to make anyone pose too but rather give them a direction of movement, talk about something important in their life, their successes and failures, something that moved them. Clicking at the right time can be very important. Getting a camera conscious person to smile may not work but talking to them about something funny, making them laugh and clicking at the right time would definitely do. You have to create an environment around the theme that you planning to shoot and set the mood accordingly.

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What technology/software/camera gear do you use to keep focused on what you do best, as you photograph?

I use very high end camera gear. When I was starting out, I used to get carried away with high end gear too and I was easily sold to the consumer brands and their marketing. However, I have realised one thing over and over again that no matter what gear you have, when you are on location it doesn’t help. For every shoot we have briefs, if it’s a personal shoot then also I have a certain idea of the direction I would be taking the shoot in. In most cases it never works 100% and there is improvisation to be done. The more creative you are, the better you’d improvise during a situation. Camera gear comes in handy to me for the type of output I may want. For shoots where I need to print out hoardings, I prefer using large format censors with more megapixel capacity. For places where I am shooting in extreme low light situations and cannot control lighting, I prefer to use extremely fast aperture lenses with cameras complimenting a higher ISO with lesser noise. Gear is important but it’s only something that compliments your idea and not generate it.

Do you think that more students should come forth to purse unconventional professions?

Yes. I often meet a lot of interesting people who have love for very unconventional things but due to the fear of the profession not in the masses they end up not pursuing it. Back when I got into engineering (2004) I was confused and I had no idea what were the other available options. I wanted to be a pilot because of my love for aircrafts but that seemed dicey too because it didn’t guarantee a job at that time. No one told me that no matter what you do in life, there is no such thing as an overnight success. If someone pushed me with that line, I may have pursued something else back then. I did later on because it’s never too late to start something new.

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Among your works, which one is your personal pick? 

As surprising as this may sound, I do not have a single favourite image from my own work. I do like them but after a few days of shooting an image I go on to “what’s the next image I will create” hence nothing ends up being my favourite.

What motivates you to continue taking pictures economically, politically, intellectually or emotionally?

My motivation is always the people around me, the stories I see and hear in real every day. It’s very easy to get demotivated with something that you love doing because you may end up setting certain expectations about what you may be doing and it won’t be the same. One thing that works for me is personal work. Personal work helps me create things out of clients brief and under complete experimentation. This helps me reboot my mind, travel around, meet new people. I don’t always create work to show to people or upload it on my website but just for myself as well.

What is your message for our readers who are mostly the millennium youth?

Be persistent. There is no such thing as overnight success. No matter what field you get into, you will never always get the kind of work you want. In every profession 70% of the work you do won’t interest you but you have to do it as a professional to survive for the 30% of the work that you love doing. Find your niche and work towards it. Everything that comes in your way will be part of something bigger that you will achieve.

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