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'Self-belief is essential to be a good photographer'

July 7, 2008
Jatin Kampani's tryst with photography began when he was in Class VI. Inspired by his father Vasant, an uncle and some of his school teachers, he graduated to become a professional photographer in 1996.

In a career spanning almost 12 years Jatin has been feted on numerous occasions. In 2006, he became the first Indian photographer to feature on the cover of Lurzer's Archive, which publishes excellent work in advertising. The same year, curator Colin Westerbeck chose his work for the Best of Show exhibition.

In 2007 he won the second prize at the Black and White Spider Awards. He has executed campaigns for among others K Raheja Universal, De Beers, the World Gold Council, the Marriott hotels, ITC, L'Oreal, Motorola, Bacardi, Seagram's India, ESPN and Pepsi.

In a telephone chat with Prasanna D Zore, Jatin discusses his career, the essentials of good photography and what scope his profession has as a career prospect.

Jatin also shared five photographs with rediff.com, which he believes are amongst his very best.

How did a lawyer become a photographer?

It's not that my parents wanted me to become a lawyer. They wanted me to finish something in academics with a post graduate degree. I chose to do law because it was convenient for me and it would have given me enough time to do what I wanted to do actually.

What inspired you to become a photographer?

I have been shooting pictures since Class VI. I have been passionate about photography since my childhood. I liked taking pictures. I was in the company of people who used to shoot pictures, the way they processed them in the dark room; all this excited me a lot.

Some of my teachers in school and my family helped me get attracted to photography; especially, my uncle and my father; both of them loved to click pictures and that influenced me to take the camera. I guess it's a spillover from there.

You don't like to tag yourself in a particular category. Why?

Do you call artists a portrait artist, a real-life artist, or an abstract artist? You call an artist an artist. Similarly, photographers should be called photographers. Why unnecessarily add tags to them?

I love taking pictures from an aircraft, shooting people, shooting nature. I love to do all sorts of stuff.

Your best work yet?

It is something I am yet to do. I feel my best work is yet to happen. Of the work I have done till now there are quite a few favourites though. I enjoyed taking pictures of people from royal families like Maharani Gayatri Devi. Then I got seven directors from Bollywood -- Karan Johar, Sanjay Leela Bhansali, Farhan Akhtar, Rakeysh Omprakash Mehra, Ashutosh Gowariker and Rajkumar Hirani -- to be under one roof and shot all of them.

Can you tell us something about the international awards you won recently?

It is the Black and White Spider Award. There is something called the International Photography Awards in London. There is the PX3 award in Paris. People liked the work I shot. But that doesn't make me the best photographer. There are many better than I am. It's only that some people like somebody's work and some people don't. I was just kind of lucky that people appreciated the kind of work I did.

The essentials of good photography...

Photography is not something that can be taught. Only technicalities can be taught and learnt. But you need something within yourself to become a good photographer. I think it's just the joy of taking pictures and there is no point in you going out to prove a point. Nothing else matters more than you being happy with the work that you do.

For any aspiring photographer, the key essential to become a good photographer would be self-belief.

Is it a lucrative career if one were to look at it as a career?

Yes, indeed. Photography as a career is very lucrative. I think today the market is pretty opened up; there are a lot of magazines; there are a lot of opportunities where people have established themselves as good photographers. I have never had complaints with the kind of fees that I have charged. I lead a comfortable life. It's just that one should not look at photography from a business point of view.

To see five of Jatin's best photographs and why he thinks them to be so, please click here.

Also read: 'In business, the name of the game is innovation'
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