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On this day last year, I walked down my office stairs for the last time. After years of moonlighting as a wedding photographer, I was finally going to become a full-time one! I was scared & excited at the same time. Fast forward one year, things haven’t panned out as I expected. I will be honest - I ended up doing way more than I expected and earning way less than I hoped for.
More things have happened to me within the last twelve months, than in the last five years! Recounting below few things among the many.
- Outside My Comfort Zone - Low on cash but high on adventure, I decided to travel 15,000 KM (two way) via land to Kathmandu for PhotoKTM 2016. I had NO Indian Govt ID acceptable by Nepalese authorities, NO hotel or journey reservations and NO Plan B if I were to be stopped at the Indo-Nepal border. To my surprise, I faced NO trouble at all. Instead I literally crossed over from India to Nepal on foot, stopping only to take a few selfies in No Man’s Land! PhotoKTM turned out to be a life-changing experience where I got to meet legends like Pablo Bartholomew & speak to photographers like Magnum Nominee Sohrab Hura. I can’t wait for PhotoKTM 2018!
- It’s A Girl! - Barely a week after I quit, Rini (my wife) quit her job at General Electric. She was three months pregnant then and we wanted to move out of our highly stressed work environments for the benefit of the baby. We also shifted homes - from the heart of the city to the outskirts of Bengaluru. A few months later, Rini gave birth to our daughter Ruth in 90 minutes - the fastest normal delivery in the hospital’s history! God’s Providence is all that I can call it! I am also thankful to God for the amount of time we are getting to spend with each other.
- Nice To Finally Meet You! - For most, photography is a lonely profession. These days photographers often ‘meet, chat & hangout’ with other photographers online than offline. After I quit, I was finally able to attend impromptu photographer meetups in Bengaluru. And this March, I attended PEP Asia 2016 in Mumbai where I got to hang out with some brilliant Indian photographers who I’ve known for years but have never met. I know that the friendships I made in the last one year and the conversations that we've started will not end soon!
- I Don’t Drink Bro! - PhotoKTM was a life-changing experience for more than one reason. I intentionally stayed away from alcohol for the first 29 years of my life, despite being a Malayali Christian. At PhotoKTM and on occasions after, the teetotaller in me tasted alcohol wilfully, more than once! But I know for a fact, I will never be someone who will go beyond sampling alcohol, though am guilty of having ‘sampled’ Bira several times!
- I Think I Need Medical Insurance - While shooting a wedding in Patna last month, I developed symptoms of Chicken Pox. Hell bent on shooting the wedding reception despite the boils all over my body, I went ahead and finished the shoot. Not losing any time, I was soon on the first flight home and spent the next three weeks recovering. Just two days after I was declared non-contagious, I had to undergo a minor surgery on my right arm for an XXL heat boil that had gone out of control. During the surgery, I was worried about a wedding that I was supposed to shoot the very next day. Thankfully, there was no pain and I was able to shoot without any problems. It was an expensive month and I hope to get insured before the next medical condition strikes me!
Every month, I wonder where the next month’s rent will come from. It is this unpredictability that makes people view the first step to follow their dreams - quitting their jobs, as a ‘mistake’. But perhaps this unpredictability is the very reason that makes one feel alive. You learn to live in the moment and you’re grateful for everything in your life - be it a warm meal or a roof above your head. Thankfully, despite our modest income, we’ve never been short of money. It’s a tough life but it's a good life. And if I were to have a time machine to go back, I will go back and make the same ‘mistake’ again, and again.