From marketing and business development to contemporary wedding and portrait photography – that’s the shift Aviraj’s career has gone through in last few years. Featuring next in our “Pursuit of Passion” series is Aviraj Saluja, for whom photography is an outlet to express his creativity. With an eye for moments and emotions and the right equipment to capture these, this very talented photographer works towards creating elegant, artistic photos that you would love to see over and over again. Have a look at some of his beautiful clicks showcased below:
Tell us something about yourself. What were you doing prior to wedding photography?
Prior to wedding photography, I spent five years of my career having fun while failing. I had a couple of stints doing marketing and business development in the Internet industry, with a failed attempt at an overseas MBA thrown in for good measure.
How did wedding photography happen to you?
It wasn’t a planned career but it certainly wasn’t an accident either. It was a result of the coming together of a very new interest in photography, an utterly terrible job and a completely fresh perspective on life. I chose photography purely because lifestyle and art suddenly jumped to the top of my life’s priorities. I chose wedding photography because I saw a massive gap in the state of wedding photography in India at the time and what I expected wedding photography to be like. By then, I had also had a little experience freelancing shooting weddings and it was one of the few things in my life that I thought I was good at. That experience, along with the small portfolio I had built with it, helped me get my first few wedding photography assignments.
When and how did you decide you want to pursue your passion full time?
The timeline of my career shift surprises even me. For the first six months after I bought my first (dSLR) camera, it was just a fancy point and shoot for me. It was in May 2010 that I really started messing around with my camera. By May 2011, exactly 12 months later, I had quit my day job. For the last 8-odd months of my job, all I was waiting for was to save up enough money to get me through 18 months of no income. My savings eventually lasted less than 6 months but I was happier than I had ever been before.
At the time, everyone around me told me that it must have been a hard decision; that I was being very brave making such a drastic move. But I actually felt no pressure at all. It just felt like the obvious thing to do. I didn’t get what all the fuss was about. It was easy. My changed perspective on life is what made me feel infinitely optimistic about the jump.
What are the key things that you love about being a wedding photographer?
I love that I have been chosen to document the most important day of two people’s lives. Not only is it flattering, I genuinely consider it an honour. If you were the source of happiness for two people for countless years to come, you would feel the same way.
I love the unpredictability of what I have to shoot. I love the spontaneity that you need to be able to create beautiful images in the most dynamic of environments that is an Indian wedding. The ecstasy you experience after nailing a shot, for which you had next to no time to prepare, is incomparable.
I love the flexibility it gives me in my calendar for – what is now top priority in my life – travel. I can choose to travel literally whenever I want, as long as I plan a few months ahead. All of this is part of my quest to become a better photographer.
How tough is it to be a wedding photographer? Do you find it more challenging as compared to your previous job?
If you look at just the facts, being a wedding photographer is extremely challenging. A good wedding photographer needs the speed of a sports photographer, the flair of a fashion photographer, the vision of a documentary photographer. That’s a lot of jobs to do in a single day – and that’s just when you’re shooting! To be an effective wedding photography business owner, you also need the skill and application to manage your post production, your administrative work, your team, your accounting and taxes, not to mention your marketing and business development. It’s quite overwhelming, honestly.
But when you love what you’re doing as much as I do, it really doesn’t feel too difficult. Sure, there are days when it all gets a bit much, but my intrinsic love for making great imagery is what eventually keeps me going.
All said and done, being a wedding photographer is surely the best I have been at any job that I have done.
What are your views on the way Indian wedding photography industry has changed over last few years?
There’s certainly been a drastic change in the wedding photography landscape in India. I joined this industry to offer my part in making a difference and I am glad to see that quality work is now being appreciated. The accessibility of high-quality equipment and endless amounts of information on the Internet has led to a huge influx of wedding photographers – myself included. The bad news here is that there is a lot of average work that is passing of as great on account of being new/modern/different. The good news, however, is that all of this will only lead to an uptick in the standard of wedding photography in the country. Things are definitely looking up.
Any message that you would like to give other photography aspirants who want to follow their passion?
About three years ago I read a small article, the title of which is a phrase that has changed my life. You can’t do what you want by doing something else. The profundity in such a simple phrase is astonishing, to me. It does an effective job of explaining that you have to make your life what you want it to be. Because if you don’t make it change, it won’t change. This is actually applicable to anyone who wishes to do anything different from what they’re presently doing. I recommend everyone to read this short piece here
Now, something a little more crucial. Anyone entering this field should not underestimate the responsibility they are assuming by shooting somebody’s wedding. Yes, you need practice to become better but a wedding should not be a place to experiment. The best way to start out is to assist someone with experience. Learn the dynamics of wedding photography under the guidance of, or even just by observing a professional. At the very least, make sure you have backup in terms of another photographer if you are shooting your first few wedding assignments. A number of things can go wrong, and you do not want to be responsible for messing up your clients’ wedding photos – the only thing they get to keep from the most important day of their lives.
Lastly, good luck!