Interview with KL.Raja Ponsing, founder and director,
AMBITIONS 4 PHOTOGRAPHY ACADEMY
How has the landscape for photographers changed in the city in the last five years?
The landscape of photography altogether has changed a lot in the recent five years on the whole and Chennai is not an exception. One can find that almost every professional photographer now owns expensive cameras and equipment. Unfortunately, many of these photographers believe that good photos come from an expensive camera or an expensive brand. Many of them tend to work very randomly and shoot 100 images to get 10 usable pictures. Turn the clock back 10-15 years, photographers use to think before every shot. But now many of them are reluctant to check even the basics. Many feel that making mistakes while shooting is accepted and is a part of the process because there is a software to repair the images later on.
At the same time, professional photography has become very expensive now, ie. people do spend big time on photography. If you look at wedding photography, photographers direct the entire wedding like a feature film. They use all kinds of gadgets whether it is really necessary or not. One can find images shot from up in the air till under the water in one wedding album. However, it’s saddening to see that the very essence of true and natural emotions, meaning of a ritual and the overall feel is lost in wedding photography as they are directed and set up shots.
Coming to commercial photography, part-time hobbyists do the jobs at a throwaway price pledging the values of photography. It has become rare to find genuine, passionate photographers who maintain the values of the profession.
What is it that students have to have in order to learn and pursue a future in photography?
The most important quality to pursue and be successful in photography is the ‘passion for the great art’. A passionate student can dedicate his/her time effectively in learning and become big and useful. They must be willing to do hard work 24X7 with a target to achieve. Though photography is a lot of fun, it should be learned and practiced seriously. Students with an artistic bent of mind and who think little out of the box have a better chance to become successful professionals. In the present scenario, they must be willing to learn throughout their life and update the technology and the trend.
Many photographers, though not all, are self-taught. What role does a school of photography play in guiding photography aspirants?
There is nothing like ‘self-taught in photography’. We pick up a lot of information from the internet, other photographers and their photos. This helps the self-taught photographers to do some trial and error basis learning. A good photography school can help the students in the following areas,
- A formal education from a school of photography leaves no stone unturned.
- The learners are given ample scope to understand all the possible technics and art through the structured curriculum.
- This gives a lot of self-confidence and helps them solve the problems thrown at them quickly and efficiently once they start their professional photography careers.
- This makes learning fast and reduces the possible mistakes that happen otherwise. For example, a photographer who has attended a formal course will be able to master the techniques, art, and business in a couple of years. Whereas, others may take years to achieve the same through a lot of trial and error and guesswork.
- Most importantly a good photography school can give a hands-on experience on some of the expensive and rare state of the art equipment, facilities, special skills, and real-time job experience.
These opportunities may or may not happen even after a long time for a self-taught photographer.
What are the courses in photography offered by Ambitions 4?
Ambitions4 Photography Academy offers fulltime and weekend courses.
How is the scene of photography in Chennai when compared to the other metropolitan cities in the country?
Chennai is a unique city in India which has a beautiful mix of technology and tradition. The value of photography as a business is very much influenced by the culture and tradition of the place/city. The photographers in Chennai are equally talented like other cities and some of them are even internationally renowned. A lot of big jobs in photography is being done in Chennai for a simple reason, the photographers are dedicated and disciplined to their jobs. The commercial value of a job in Chennai is relatively less, I mean; the photographers are not paid like other cities. The job opportunities are becoming good in recent years.
In what line of work can photography students explore a more lucrative future? (i.e., Other than still photography)
Moving to become commercial, advertising, fashion and big-time wedding photographers is the best option for a lucrative career. Apart from being still photographers, the students can head towards working for movies after assisting cinematographers. They can also start doing short films, corporate films, advertising films and so on. This is possible for, they have a strong foundation about the visual art and medium. They can team up to operate as a company to do weddings and events which could turn out to be a lucrative future. Image post-processing and designing is yet another area they can explore.