At exactly half past ten yesterday morning when the time was most auspicious, Infosys engineer Ramesh Lakshmishivaputran clicked on his Apple Magic Mouse and launched his new company – Ramesh Lakshmishivaputran Photography – on popular social networking site Facebook.
The unincorporated, unregistered, non-trademarked company soon registered its Twitter, Pintrest, Tumblr, Flickr and Google +1 accounts. The beaming Ramesh said that he had always dreamed of becoming a photographer just like his friends Vijay, Sridhar, Imitiaz, Dayanand, Vignesh, Roopa, Bhavana, Sashidhar, Peter, Inder, Akash and Prakash.
All his friends have their own photography businesses as well, and they all work in Bengaluru’s omnipresent IT/BPO industry.
Ramesh and his friends belong to the growing breed of new-age photographers who have excessively well paid jobs in the IT industry and have nothing better to do when they are waiting for their next onsite deployment.
“It’s not just IT professionals who are becoming photographers. Lawyers, doctors, bankers, government servants and even politicians are becoming photographers. Basically, anyone who has lots of free time during working hours can become photographers,” said Ramesh.
Ramesh continued by explaining that he was just another bored IT professional until his friend persuaded him to buy a cheap digital camera three weeks ago. “Not knowing anything about photography or cameras, I bought my friend’s camera as he was upgrading to a digital SLR.
I still remember looking at the LCD and pressing the shutter release for the first time. The blurry picture of my coworker Swamy looking at his daily horoscope was so artistic that I was instantly inspired to become a photographer. Imagine creating art at the click of a button! Amazing, no? I sold the cheap camera and immediately invested in a digital SLR with 18-105mm kit lens.”
That investment was the starting point for Ramesh that culminated in the founding of Ramesh Lakshmishivaputran Photography. He soon started taking pictures of his coworkers and family obsessively, and his hard work finally paid off when he was asked to be the official photographer for his nephew’s first birthday party.
The only thing Indians like more than having their pictures taken is a free photographer. The birthday party assignment was a runaway hit. His photographs garnered fifty three likes and twenty seven comments on Facebook. Ramesh saw that as destiny, and the seeds for his own photography business were sown.
“You don’t have to quit your job to pursue your passion. I continue to get paid mega-bucks while I dabble with photography during office hours. I have even started teaching photography classes to aspiring beginners. In fact, students from my first class a week ago are launching their own Photography pages on Facebook this week.”
All this in a few short weeks since your first camera?
“Yes. The camera is just like a computer, you know? You press some buttons and you can download colourful pictures. We IT professionals have lots of experience in downloading colourful pictures using our computers,” explained Ramesh, “Once you get good at clicking pictures, you can start a local ‘Learn Photography’ course. However, to hit primetime you need a Facebook page and tireless harassment of friends, family and acquaintances to like your page.”
What about art?
“Photography is art. If I want something more artistic, I change the colour photographs to black and white using my pirated Photoshop copy. And if monotoning, artificial vignetting, level and curve adjustments fail to make it more artistic, I use the magic Auto-tone function in Photoshop. Boom. Art.”
Who knew photography was so simple? It is no wonder then that thousands of ‘Firstname Lastname Photography’ pages are mushrooming all over the social networks. An average Indian has 3000 friends on Facebook and about half of those friends have their own ‘Firstname Lastname Photography’ pages.
Nikhil Sharma, an avid Facebook user, is not impressed. “Every hour I get a request to like someone’s Photography page. There’s got to be a limit to this madness.”
Kamlesh Yadav, a veteran photographer who has been photographing for at least a year, agrees with Nikhil. “See, the problem is these kids pick up a camera and think they are shooting like Diane Arbus and Henri Cartier-Bresson. They don’t have any respect for us old-timers and look down upon us. When I started photographing last year, only about one in ten Facebook friends were photographers and now nearly everyone is a photographer. It’s very bad.”
Ramesh is undeterred, “I have confidence in my photography skills. I’m honing my skills all the time and will keep pace with my peers. In fact, I have started to shoot in modes other than Auto of late.”
The Congress party has taken note of this rise in the number of photographers in the country and are planning to start a Ministry of Photography to help shape the future of millions in the burgeoning photography industry. “An significant group needs to be taken care off, with laws and protection. Besides, we need to keep our coalition partners happy and are always looking to create a new ministry or two,” confirmed a Congress spokesperson.
Photography is here to stay and it may even soon be illegal to be seen without a camera around your neck. Stay with the herd and start clicking. And don’t forget to register your own photography page on Facebook as soon as possible.