A Lesson On The Importance Of Self-Belief By Srijan Mahajan

This is a three-part story on self belief, one that began when I was still in school. I started playing the keyboard when I was about eight or nine-years-old, and spent the next five-seven years learning everything I could about the instrument. Then, when I got to class 9, a few of my musician friends and I wanted to form a band. You see, the school I attended had an annual Founder’s Day (School Birthday in our school) and we had wanted to perform at it for as long as I could remember. The only problem? We were missing a drummer. 

Till one day I saw that the same school where I’d been learning the keys also organised drum classes. On an absolute whim, I decided to give it a shot so we could complete the band. “How hard could it be?” I thought to myself without realising  that was the first day of the rest of my life. You see, the minute I held the drum sticks in my hand, I had already begun a journey that would take me around the world, playing gigs with many bands, including Parikrama. Needless to say, I also performed at the Founder’s Day. 

Act II

In 2012, I began accepting music production offers but there was a catch: I had no clue how to produce music. A fellow musician and friend, Arsh Sharma would sit in a little corner in his parent’s house learning and he would teach me how to make music. It was here that we went on to record bands and also produce some of our own songs, together as Fuzzculture, with Arsh guiding me the whole way. A few months later, another friend of mine, Nikhil Malik told me that someone he knew was making a movie and needed music for it that he was going to have to produce. Again, on a whim, I pitched the idea of the three of us getting together to do it, instead. By some chance, Nikhil agreed and that right there was the beginning of Studio Fuzz. Together, we worked on the background score for a full-length feature film, MCream when we didn’t have the slightest clue how we’d get it done. What we did know was how to say ‘yes’. 

Third time lucky? 

In 2015, I got curious about making photographs, and decided to make 365 great photographs, one for every day of 2016. This challenge led to me shooting constantly, getting better at photography and, eventually, even getting offered professional photography assignments and a music video–all of which, yep you guessed it, I said ‘yes’ to.

Back to the present

A few days ago, on a particularly rainy and grey morning (the ones that are perfect for a little bit of regression or a pause, if you may), I realised that the one thing that was common between my best work, over a 15-year period,  was that I had no idea how to do it at the time that I decided to do it. In retrospect, learning on the job has contributed entirely to my evolution as both a person and an artist. If I hadn’t said yes to any of those projects, I wouldn’t have learnt to do any of the things I do every day, and my life would’ve looked very, very different. 

So, say yes! I’m sure you’ll figure it out (whatever ‘it’ is)  as you go along. 


Best Cameras To Buy For Amateur Photographers

I am often asked, “What is the best camera?” Or, “Which is a good camera to buy?” Typically, the person asking is anxious and excited, someone planning to pursue photography as a hobby or a potential career. The answer needn’t be as complicated as it is often made out to be.  Let’s begin by addressing some of the reasons why buying your first camera feels like such a complicated decision. 

  • You don’t know what all the tech jargon means
  • You don’t really know what you intend to shoot and what you don’t care to shoot
  • Cameras are expensive
  • There is a massive industry whose only job is to sell you the latest, greatest camera that will apparently turn you into an amazing photographer.

Let me start by tackling these issues in reverse. The words megapixel, autofocus, low light and image stabilization enter the lexicon of many amateurs and hobbyists long before they even begin to marvel at form, shadows, light and texture. While understanding camera technology is important, the current levels of tech obsession are grossly overdone even for most working professionals, let alone hobbyists.

Ask yourself a simple question – how many of your photos are going to be printed and how many will never ever go beyond being shared on Instagram or Facebook. I am not belittling social media but it’s important to understand that even if your camera has 1000 megapixels, Instagram and Facebook just about accept an image that is 1080 pixels wide. If I translate that sentence to English, it means that even a budget smartphone today produces an image that is overkill for Instagram and Facebook in terms of megapixels. 

Similarly, autofocus speeds and low light performance are great tools but mean absolutely nothing unless your primary photographic subjects are Olympic athletes or the secret life of fruit bats. I assure you that the autofocus on your smart phone paired with the powerful presence of a biscuit will slow your pet dog down to the point where you can nail the perfect shot sans a one lakh rupee DSLR. 

So, to begin with, disregard all the hoopla around camera specs. Perhaps the only camera specs to really think about are size and weight. I feel compelled to explain my standpoint at this juncture. As you delve into the wonderful world of photography, the one thing your camera needs to be really good at is becoming a seamless part of your life. It is this ability to have an unobtrusive camera as companion that will allow you to test and explore the subjects that really make you tick. 

In the interests of full disclosure, my approach to exploring photography is everyday rather than simply on holidays or on the odd day that you decide to lug your DSLR around to a few monuments. And so my top recommendation for a beginner camera is a really good cellphone. Hey, don’t fall off your chair! 

It’s no secret that cellphone cameras have come a long way but what most people don’t realize is that cellphones have a neat trick up their sleeve that no DSLR can accomplish. Cellphone cameras don’t make people uncomfortable! Imagine yourself aiming a DSLR roughly the size of your head at your parents as they break into a laugh or aiming one at your siblings when they act corny. In all probability if the size of the camera doesn’t catch their attention, the gun shot slap of the shutter will. Professional photographers spend considerable time refining their technique to use DSLRs without setting off their subjects. Cellphone cameras offer amateurs and hobbyists a massive head start to explore varied subjects without having to learn how to manipulate a DSLR.

My top picks for good cellphone cameras are: 

  1. Google Pixel 3A/3 (Whichever doesn’t send your bank account into a tailspin)
  2. iPhone XR/XS (For those who are still paying Apple tax, myself included)
  3. One Plus 7/7 PRO (Arguably the best value for money)
  4. Redmi Note 7 pro (For those on a tight budget)

All the above cellphones share one single thing in common. Their cameras start up fast and often don’t need you to unlock your phone. All of them have reasonably good lenses and sensors. So pick one that fits your budget. You really can’t go wrong!

For those of you who think that cellphone cameras don’t give you enough control over photos, come join the MYNT Cellphone Photography Capsule. I will give you a money back guarantee if I can’t change your mind about cellphone cameras. 

I can sense the frown on your forehead as you wonder how a cellphone camera can shoot in dim lighting and how it can capture the details of flowers and the beautifully random movement of birds. While we at MYNT can teach you how to shoot any and all of these subjects with your cellphone, a dedicated camera can offer you some advantages. However, the answer to your woes is still not a DSLR. Most of us find ourselves in dimly lit conditions at parties, that is of course, when we aren’t marveling at birds and flowers. A DSLR at a party is like an SUV at an F1 race. It’s plain clumsy and overkill. The same holds true for beautiful vistas we encounter when we travel. A small pocketable camera with a good viewfinder will let you shoot some stunning and candid images in almost any light condition. 

My Top Picks:

  1. Sony RX100 VII or Sony RX 100 VA (Get whichever is carrying a heavier discount)
  2.  Panasonic Lumix TZ 200 or Lumix DC-LX100 Mark II (The latter offers more control but doesn’t fit in a jeans pocket and the former fits in a jeans pocket and has an impressive auto mode)
  3. Fujifilm X100f (Hands down the best camera if you are really committed to honing your photographic craft. NOTE: Doesn’t have a zoom lens! Many pros don’t use zoom lenses either )
  4. Ricoh GR (A similar approach as the Fuji X100f but can fit in a shirt pocket)

Some of you may wonder why I am recommending tiny point-and-shoot cameras that cost as much or more than DSLRS. The reason is simple. These cameras pack a massive punch in a small package. In many light conditions you can’t tell their images apart from a DSLR and they help you overcome many of the complications in understanding camera technology with an easy learning curve. These cameras can be found in the hands of many working pros for the simple no fuss approach to photography they offer. 

For those of you who are still unconvinced, only and only if you see yourself making a living from photography, consider a DSLR or an interchangeable lens camera (ILC). These cameras by virtue of allowing you to mount varied lenses are more flexible and can grow with your interests and skill. These cameras demand that you spend time understanding the technology built into them and spend time learning to use the technology to render your imagination into images. 

My top picks:

  1. Fujifilm XE 3 with 18-55 kit lens (Perhaps the only thing this camera won’t excel at is shooting wildlife. In every other way it’s near perfect. The analog controls can be a great learning tool for beginners and pros) 
  2. Canon 200D Mark II with EF-S 18-55 kit lens (Optional get the twin kit lens pack that includes an EF-S 55-250 lens if you intend to shoot live performances and birds)
  3. Nikon 3500D with Nikkor 18-55 kit lens (Optional get the twin-kit lens pack that includes a Nikkor 70-300 lens if you intend to shoot live performances and birds)

Here is hoping that I have spared you hours of internet research and agonizing over budgets. Get a camera that catches your fancy and come join us at MYNT to get your photographic journey started.



P.S: In case you think I am being paid by these companies to push their phones or cameras, I swear by all my photographic gods that is not the case. 


Interesting Career Opportunities in Photography

With the improvement in the technology of phone cameras and the “share-it” mindset that apps such as Instagram have brought along, photography as a career has really boomed in the recent past. Presently, opportunities are plenty for photographers but as with everything else, they come with an equal amount of competition to be the best in the industry. As with any creative profession, one has to constantly keep upping your game to stay relevant and be future ready.

We live in a world full of instant photography, one where every smartphone has a camera which can freeze unlimited moments at the click of a button. This wasn’t possible as recently as two decades ago when owning a camera or getting a picture clicked was a luxury which only a privileged few could have. But the world today has evolved, all thanks to the smartphones’ superlative cameras which can click tones of videos and pictures. Freezing memories daily has become an irreplaceable part of our lives.

Considering how the fashion, media and advertising industry is flourishing, photography has been emerging as a very lucrative career opportunity worldwide. Photography is now perceived as a full-time career than just a hobby and there are so many diverse sub-sectors in this field that most aspiring photographers just don’t know where to start.

Also read: Is Alternative Education your Next Thing? 

Today, we are going to cover all these diverse sub-sectors of photography (other than starting your very own studio) so you can be better informed about which direction you want to head in when it comes to pursuing photography.

Photography course

1) Fashion Photography: Possible the most glamorous side of the industry, this will let you express a more artistic, surreal style of photography. The job includes taking pictures of models wearing high-end fashion, commercial fashion in a studio or swimsuits on a beach. Fashion photographers create fantasy images of the ‘ideal look’ which encourage consumers to buy certain clothes, makeup, jewellery and accessories.

2) Portrait Photography: 
Taking pictures of people, either individually or in groups is the job of a portrait photographer. It essentially involves capturing precious family moments which includes both portrait shots as well as candid shots that capture the intimacy of a relationship or a child’s milestone birthday. To become a professional portrait photographer, the most important thing is to excellent interpersonal skills apart from an eye to identify and capture the right moment.

3) Forensic Photography: 
This particular stint requires much more than just photography skills! A forensic photographer must possess a great deal of knowledge regarding human anatomy and forensic procedures since their images are used to support evidence in legal cases in the court of law. It largely involves depicting crime scenes from various angles and distances and the eligibility requirement varies from department to department but experience in police work, forensics, crime scene investigation and photography will make an application more competitive.   

4) Nature, Wildlife and Travel Photography: 
Taking pictures of all aspects of nature which includes scenery and animals both is what includes the job of nature and wildlife photographer. This includes photos of specific kinds of animals, animal action shots, underwater shots, weather phenomenon and many more and the career path includes learning about nature, how animals behave, when are they active, finding local natural spots and being patient since nature doesn’t give you what you need in an instant!

Travel photography

5) Military Photography: A day in the life of an Army photographer might involve everything from snapping candid photos of soldiers at work to recording battlefield action as it happens. But not everyone can just join the Army and pick up a camera. The opportunity to record the Army in action takes special skills and specific training. As a military photographer, your photos would be used for recruitment, educational purposes, and historical documentation, similar to photojournalism.

6) Photojournalist: 
It is an art of creating a visual representation of a newsworthy event where words fall short. It most certainly is a broad career, since the field is extremely diverse, from international issues to local sports events and it comes with its own set of challenges. It’s one of the toughest fields to break into and requires a lot of passion and perseverance. To get into this field, photographers often get into a job at a newspaper or magazine. There’s a long period of freelance work also as you slowly build your portfolio and network.

7) Photo editor or digital imaging editor: This career is for those who have a keen eye in selecting the right image for a story and editing them for a magazine or a publication. The most essential skill is to have an eye for excellent photos and many times edit the photo to make it work for the specific purpose. A photo editor should understand how people react to pictures and should have a keen eye for detail.

Is photography your passion? Are you interested in freezing moments which will be cherished for generations? If it is so, check out our photography course on our website now and start the journey as a photographer!