Delhi based Gautam Ahuja’s life events are quite similar to the story of the King and the Spider that we all have heard atleast once in life. Born in an affluent business family, Gautam’s fate was almost decided he had to do well in studies, study management & commerce and eventually handle his family business of automobile spare parts. While many might find life comforting in such a scenario but Gautam wanted to break away, he had a longing for something completely different. It was back in 1998 that he first got introduced to a personal camera when his grandmother gifted him a Minolta Camera. He used to casually shoot with it, but what his eyes saw not many could see. “I believe that a photograph has the power to narrate a story. You are a good photographer if your photographs can make people remember the conversations or moments when that picture was clicked” believes Gautam.
Life went on and Gautam kept exploring landscapes and capturing people be it on vacation or en route his workplace in Delhi 6. Until 2007 when he got married and his brother gifted him a point and shoot camera. His honeymoon in Malaysia became his ground to explore nature and landscapes through the lens. That’s when the photography bug bit him hard. “I realized that photography is my medium of expression and I wanted to explore it more” says Gautam.
Stargazing at Pangong
Soon Gautam got his very first DSLR a Canon 60D and started learning more about photography as he clicked. That’s when a friend suggested that there are a number of clubs in Delhi that hire freelance photographers to click pictures of their Club and people to showcase on social media networks. “I took up the opportunity because I wanted to learn. But to belong to a business family and being your own boss I wasn’t used to people ordering me or misbehaving with me. But as a photographer in a club where people are drunk such things used to happen so I literally had to crush my ego so that I could learn photography” reminisces Gautam. But that wasn’t his only struggle, his family too wasn’t very supportive of his new found interest so he would go to work every morning and then head to clubs working till late at night to learn the craft. “He would sleep for only two hours and I was worried that he might fall sick. I was very proud of his dedication towards photography but I was adamant that it shouldn’t be at the cost of his well being” confesses Gautam’s wife Ridhi. Three months later Gautam quit the bar assignments.
In 2014 Gautam went to Ladakh with friends, the beauty of Ladakh can turn anyone into a photographer and for Gautam the place rekindled his passion. “I remember there was a shot I wanted to take of the Pangong lake but the shots just didn’t come right. That’s when I decided that I shouldn’t give up, I have to learn more” confesses Gautam. So he came back and Ridhi connected him with a wedding photographer friend of hers. Gautam started his struggle again this time as a wedding photographer. “For him money wasn’t important so he used to take up assignments with this friend without any monetary benefits. He just wanted to learn and that’s what mattered to him the most” shares Ridhi. But wedding photography too wasn’t easy “My relatives or associates used to see me and they used to call up my dad saying why your son is doing this? It is so embarrassing; he belongs to such a good family. Initially everyone used to look down upon this profession but now things are changing. So whenever I would see any relative I used to hide so that they don’t question me or my parents” expresses Gautam.
But things changed as Gautam’s work started getting appreciation. Now the very same people who used to look down upon his profession ask him to click their picture. While he continues to do his business, he also takes up wedding photography assignments and is one of the well known photographers in Delhi. “The Photograph of Pangong that I wanted to take a year back was haunting me so I went to Ladakh again in 2015. I stood at bank of the lake to take a shot, it took me 8 minutes to take the shot and I did not even realize that it was so cold that my fingers froze. But I got the shot and that’s what matters” Gautam smiles and shares. For Gautam learning never ends and every person he meets, every assignment he takes is a means to learn more about the craft and be an even better story teller than before.
Stepping into a new world