Turning passion into profession : An Interview with Auditya Venkatesh
We recently got an opportunity to interview one of the best photographers in the country when Auditya Venkatesh, a Bangalore based photographer of ‘Audi Photography’ fame stumbled upon Manipal on his way to Gokarna from Coorg, all as a part of his tour of Southern India. He might have started small but today, with almost 700,000 likes on his Facebook page, he now stands among the top photographers in the country.
How did you get into photography?
I was always interested in photography. I liked the idea of capturing a certain part of a place at a particular time. I never thought I’d be a photographer though. Sadly, I wasn’t great at many things but thankfully photography is one of those things I’m good at. We used to travel a lot when I was a kid and when my father would crash the rest of us would keep taking pictures.
So, what about your education? What did you study?
I’m a drop-out. It was the worst. I gave up. Studying just wasn’t for me. I couldn’t complete. I was pursuing Chartered Accountancy. The reason I gave up, though, was when I was doing my article ship, I was the only one in my entire batch of articles who could communicate, because of which I got to head my own team and I was interviewing chartered accountants to work under my team. Then I realized, if I finished my chartered accountancy and I’m being interviewed by a 20 year old who knows nothing about what he is doing, I didn’t think it was a good thing to continue. That’s the story behind my dropout. I think you just have to take the call. It’s either a massive mistake or a really good decision. I’m not saying dropping out was the right thing to do, but for me it was the easy way out. In the end it sort of worked out and I think I’m lucky that I did well.
Were you already pursuing photography by then?
I was always shooting, but I never thought of taking it up full time. But around 2009-10, I took it up full time.
How was your initial experience? Was it a cakewalk?
Not at all. It still isn’t easy. But then again I don’t think it’s easy with any job. People see me travelling and think it’s an easy job. It didn’t start off well either. The first 10 to 11 months, I did not have any money. So eventually you’ll have to figure things out. I didn’t give up, and here I am.
What was your family’s reaction when you decided to choose photography?
My dad was so angry, he just flipped. He was livid. My mom was very supportive. But eventually it was fine. My dad was fine with it after 3 steps, first when he heard good things from other people, second was when I paid my first taxes, and third was when I got my office. Then he said, ’Yea, he can survive.’ My sister on the other hand doesn’t think much about me, she’s the exact opposite of me. Doesn’t travel much, studies way too much. She is a psychologist. I’m like a great case study, this crazy person in the house.
Do you have any sponsors for this trip or in general?
What do I tell them? I’m going on a trip, sponsor me? (Laughs). On a serious note, with sponsors, it won’t remain as true to its purpose, because they’ll then ask me to do stuff for them. For example, if I an automobile company sponsors me for my road trip, it won’t be about the road trip anymore, it’ll be about the car. It’ll be like every city I go to, they’ll ask me to put a picture with the car and shoot stuff in the car. I’m not going to sit and waste my time on that. I’ll click a picture of the car if I like it, but I won’t click a picture of it everywhere I stop. We are sponsored by ourselves, sadly. You guys want to sponsor me, I’m open to it (Laughs). Sony does view my images, and pay me if they want a particular picture.
So, how do you fund yourself?
Just like everybody – work up, save, fund yourself, go broke and work again. You know what it’s like.
How has Facebook helped you in growing?
Just networking I think, I mean that concept has helped me a lot. First big brands have got in touch with me through Facebook. A lot of times when I was in a random city and there was no body I knew and I put up a status and someone helped me out. Now I’m on Instagram and Snapchat as well.
Is it just Photography or have you tried your hands on videography?
Yea, I’ve shot a bit for DiscoveryTV. I’ve shot TV shows, quite a few. But I just don’t post my work.
You recently attended an under-25 summit, what was that like?
It wasn’t an under-25 summit, I’m 27 and I was there (laughs). The average over there was 21 or something, I felt old. It was an interesting meet up, people were there from a lot of different backgrounds. The experience was quite inspiring.
What do you do besides photography?
Slack off work. Read stuff on the internet a lot of YouTube. And some writing too when I have free time.
Where are you coming from and where are you headed?
I was in Wayanad a while ago, then Coorg. Next Gokarna, then Goa, Hampi, Bijapur, finally to Bombay.
You have recently started tagging ‘Stay Routed’ on all your posts, what is ‘Stay Routed’ exactly?
We started off, I think, at around 11th of February. We’re still figuring it out. The whole idea is to drive to places. I plan to go till Kashmir. I want to go to North East, the only problem is the permissions take a while. It takes a lot of time if you are taking your own vehicle, and the deeper you go into the north east it harder it gets. Right now we are doing just the western half of the country, then we’ll head to Kashmir and in the second half, to north east.
What are your plans for the future?
Nothing really. I just go with the flow. But as of now I am looking forward to catch the sunset at Marwanthe.
Design Credits : Kartikeya Rastogi