The week that’s gone by…

Hi Girish, how are you… Yes, I know I need to finalise an actress or a model for your cover. Give me until evening, I’ll get it done. Ok…

The first day of the week and I’m already stressed!

We have a shoot for a new magazine and they want me to help them get an actress or a top model and do a sexy shoot. Clients think that I just need to make a phone call and actresses will throng me like bees near a hive! Wish that was possible.

And then, to top it all, you have the briefs like, ‘she should be sexy’, ‘she should be ok with exposing’, etc. Do they think I am a magician? Anyway, my trusty assistants get to work calling up half the world for either actresses or models to do the shoot with.

The first day of the week goes by like a speeding train – meetings, and more meetings – and finally the day’s over and I’ve not done anything I wanted to do. Whoever said being a photographer is fun?!

I spend most of my time cooped up in my studio (which is more like an office now) answering calls, conducting meetings, touching up images. I can’t remember the last time I shot for myself.

I have made so many diaries filled with ideas, but I had to throwthem away because I never found the time to play with those ideas. In fact, I had an idea in the year 2000 and I finally got around to doing it in 2006! It’s almost like family planning!

I am shooting for a new client today. No matter how many shoots I do, every time I pick up the camera, it feels like the first time. I’m scared not to mess up, I hope the pictures come out right, and I try and do something new, I hope I’m not too rude, and everything turns out right… I feel like a captain of the ship with so many responsibilities, so many different thoughts.

It was a good day until I got a call from an actress saying that she wants to do the cover of the magazine that we were coordinating for. What do I do, I can’t say no to her! I start calling up my client, makeup artist, stylist, practically everyone for dates and confirmations. I wish I can actually scream out to the world and say ‘Commercial photography isn’t all about glitz and glamour’.

I don’t remember when was the last time I actually spent the whole day lazing at home, working a little, going through my paper work, or just self-critiquing a cover or a movie poster I’d shot.

I think I want a 4-day week.

The wonder called Taj Mahal

Have you ever seen the Taj Mahal at 5 in the morning? That too, from the banks of the Yamuna …if you haven’t, you’ve not seen anything in life… The last two weeks have been one of the most fun filled times in my life.

After 26/11, there was a depression which had settled in, generally in life. Everyone I interacted with was either low, or not in the mood to work, or suddenly lost about life. I guess there were so many emotions at the same time that we were going through. Indeed they were confusing times.

Then it was time for my annual holiday which we planned a year back… something I have only recently started taking.

When I started out in photography I was quite old – by today’s standards. I had a chemicals company before I jumped into photography. I studied maths, law, history, transport business, etc. Don’t remember now, but I was gradually getting lost. That life is a blur now. I call it my past. This is me, what I am today.

Anyway, I got so busy working that I forgot what holidays are and suddenly two years back, I realised that I hadn’t taken a break in the last seven years. And now, all I want to do is take holidays.

And it was time again for my two best buddies Najeeb aka Sheikh Chilli, and Dhunjishaw Bulsara aka Balram Singh and me Vikram Singh aka Ram Singh – the designated driver – to come together and go for our annual holiday.

Did I tell you I love driving, and we go all over the world by car? This time, it was from Mumbai to Nepal by car. The journey was adventurous – Delhi, Nepal, Agra, Jaipur, Udaipur and back.

All of us love shooting pictures. So inevitably we would jump off every two minutes to go clickety click all the time.

I’ve been a commercial photographer for so long that a few years back I had forgotten how to be candid and shoot just for the love of photography. I could only imagine and see clients’ briefs and requirements.

These holidays are a way for me to come back to myself – the reason I got into photography, and I think the reason why a lot of us love photography. We all like to shoot, as long as we are shooting something and maybe recording things the way we see them, not necessarily what will come out well in an ad or a magazine cover.

India is an amazing country – you can get the most diverse people and locations every few hundred kms. I’ve shot 6,000 images on this trip alone – people, places, monuments. But seeing the Taj at 5.30 am coming out of the winter fog gives you a new image every minute. It was mind boggling. I have never been so taken aback by anything else ever in my life. Any photographer worth his salt must visit this location at least once.

Well, as everything good comes to an end and now that holidays are over and I’m back to work, I am shooting with one of my favourite persons, Shilpa Shetty for a magazine. The best thing about working with her is that she’s fast and professional. The shoot gets over in a few hours and I’m back home by evening… feels like I’m still on a holiday.