I get this question a lot and I decided to answer it on Quora. I never expected the post to get over 9000 views in just a week. Must be a popular question. :)
So here is my answer below. The original post by me can be found at Quora here.
The short answer - It is a lot of fun!
The long answer -
Background - I took up full time professional photography after 6 years in the corporate world. It was a seamless transition for me as I've been shooting fashion, wedding and jewellery photography for many years before I took the plunge.
Since then the following have happened -
1. I meet different people
My clients include a diverse range of people. I've shot -
- doctors from the US looking to get married on the sands of Jaipur
- A groom who runs his own mobile gaming startup
- A super smart politician who wears a Fitbit
- A graphic artist + Art Director
- A Hindustani classical singer who performs and teaches
- An anchor of a Bollywood talk show!
- An MBA grad who has started a social venture
This has expanded my world view and since I meet them and capture their special moments during their wedding we form a good bond. I now have friends from a more varied set than I have had before, especially via work. They represent more geographies, nationalities and occupations than I have ever encountered before.
I also work an an amazingly talented bunch of make- up artists, fellow photographers, event planners, venue owners etc. A healthy mix of ages, nationalities and perspectives!
2. I've been exposed to new cultures
There are a dozen clichés floating around Punjabi weddings and destination weddings and Marwari weddings and so on. Some are true and a lot are not. I've had the fortune of being exposed to various ceremonies and styles due to which I've come to believe India is a nation of nations.
Within a linguistic state's wedding the sheer complexity of style blows your mind. There are often various levels of practices/ceremonies/rituals -
- That of the religion
- That of the language
- That of the region/state
- That of the family.
This is simultaneously enriching and bewildering. :)
3. I get to design how I spend my time
No more morning commute!
I'm much more in control of my schedule now that I run my own wedding photography service. I've had more time to indulge in hobbies. I've tried to -
- Start a Garden (ok only the cactus and the money plant survived, but i tried!)
- Practice Visual storytelling via Instagram
- Learn some Art - I gave making Kerala Mural Paintings a shot! Have a look -
- Reading! (discovered the Harry Potter & Anne of Green Gables series)
- Explored other forms of photography like food photography (even managed to hit 500px's most popular section a couple of times)
4. I can see the impact of my work
Corporate work is great. You get structure, a steady income and relatively low amount of uncertainty compared to running your own business. But in most corporate jobs it is difficult to see your impact.
In my daily work I can gauge my impact. There are brides who call tearfully (from the US forgetting that it's 3 AM in India!) to talk about how much they loved their pictures. There are men who arrange couple shoots on the sly for their fiancé and often the shoot is the first time they both have met in the absence of their parents!
At one wedding I was the point of cultural translation between the bride and the groom's families who were from different states. Another time I remember a bed ridden grandmother who could attend for a short duration. I did not know about her condition and captured her throwing flowers in the ceremony. Months later I got a call from the family saying that this was one of the few images of her where she is so happy and in the rush and bustle of the wedding no one thought of capturing it.
5. I've learnt the importance of a 'No'
I've learnt to be more disciplined. I've learnt to say No more often.
I say No to clients who might pay a lot but may not get what I do or appreciate how I do it.
I say No to good clients often, as I don't want to stress myself and my team with back to back weddings during peak wedding seasons. Both creativity and the health get hit.
I've learnt to say No to a dozen small things that come in between my client's requirements and my ability to deliver great images to them. These include cheaper equipment and doing my own taxes ( now this is outsourced :) ).
Saying No helps me focus. :)
6. I've started travelling better
I've had the fortune of travelling for photography the past few years. I never expected to shoot in a resort at Jim Corbett.
There are a dozen other places I've shot weddings in.
But I mean over and above wedding/photography related travel I've started doing extended travels. I did a trip to Turkey where I spent over 7 days in Istanbul only. I could do this as I chose to forgo business. I could rejuvenate in a foreign land and by doing street photography in Istanbul, learn and cross learn photographic skills. I could amble down various streets at leisure.