In our series of interviews
with working professionals looking back in their career, we have Aditya Mendiratta, a professional photographer sharing his inspiring and entertaining story this week. Aditya explains how he started his career and how he went on to become a successful and internationally published photographer that he is today; the side of his success-story that many people overlook.
Q: Tell us about yourself?
A: I am Aditya Mendiratta, a Computer Science graduate by education, but a photographer by passion and profession. I am based out of New Delhi, and have been a photographer for about 3 years now.
Q: What subjects did you choose, why did you choose them? What was the rationality behind those choices?
A: There was no rationality at that time. I was taught sense probably… I think everyone is taught sense in their childhood that you can go for two things; medical and non-medical. And that’s pretty much how I landed in the non-medical, which is engineering. I didn’t even know that there were things like photography, film-making, etc.
Q: Did you attend any counseling sessions or take expert advice?
A: No, because I don’t think anything was available at that time. I don’t think there are very good counseling sessions. You have college counseling sessions, where they tell you which engineering subject you need to take, but you have to come to engineering.
Q: What do you think they should have considered rather than just giving you five streams of engineering to choose one from? What would have been a better scenario?
A: I landed in a college in the most weird way possible. I was supposed to become a pilot, but I flunked the exam. I never appeared for any college entrance exams, filled no forms, nothing. I was basically at a point where I didn’t know what to do. I landed at a college which would admit me based on 12th mark sheet. Without any exams, you just fill the form and pay the fees. If you have secured more than 75% in the 12th standard exams, you are good to go. That’s how I got in.
Q: Did you consult any counselors post college?
A: Actually not. I did try to find out myself because when I realized I am interested in photography, I tried to find out how I can succeed as a photographer. but the only people I could approach were the photographers themselves. There were no counseling apart from that. Or you probably approach someone in the industry on how things work and how you could go ahead. But in terms of education, on the creative front, there is no counseling available. You try to find it, but you end up finding people in the industry itself, who might or might not discourage you, but you will never get a neutral opinion.
Q: If there was a system that would have identified your natural inclinations and strengths, do you think you would have ended up in a much better position, if you could have attained all that knowledge right from the beginning?
A: Definitely, because if you look at people growing up today, most of them find out things by experimenting. no one really knows they are a painter or a film-maker or anything like that. People start experimenting and that’s how they go with it. After you get to know, you need some kind of a guidance. And if there is a guidance available in the education system itself, it would be helpful. Today, the pressure is increasing, exams are increasing. They don’t have place for anything else apart from basic studies today.
Q: In terms of changing your career later on, can you tell us what it takes to explore, how taxing it is to change it later on rather than starting out with what you want to do?
A: It was going hard because I got into one of those phase of life which is the hardest to leave. And that is the steady salary. No matter what you do, at the end of the month, you get your salary. You can’t leave that. You are so stuck to that, that leaving it knowing that you will eventually end up in a point where you will be broke; you will not have money to travel; you may not have money for food; it is not so easy. But I figured I would rather do that, and at least even if I don’t succeed, I’ll have the answer to why I didn’t succeed. Maybe I’ll work towards it or maybe I’ll leave it. But at least I’ll try. So it was quite hard. I did join courses here. and I realized the quality of creative education here is really really bad. Because people who are teaching are the ones who did not succeed. The ones who succeeded do not teach. it was like a very bad pot, I was stuck, and eventually I had to do everything by myself. I went though YouTube tutorials, joined courses based in the U.S, and I had to go through all those to get the skill level up.
Q: You wished there was someone to guide you in your chosen field. Do you think of being that someone to people like you?
A: I do, and it is one of the things on my to-do to start someday in India and promote creative education. Probably 5 or 10 years down the line, once I have established myself, I’ll look into that sector.
Aditya is a good example of the impact career switches can have on a professional and how it helps save valuable years if the inclinations and talent are identified early than after a 4-year degree. But another key takeaway from this interview is that Aditya did make that leap of faith towards his interest. If he had remained a programmer just because the money was good, he would have lost the motivation soon, but in his chosen field of photography, that is not likely to happen because it is something he cares about. Stay tuned for more such interviews.
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