A year without a Job

Seeing new landscapes while work takes me to newer places. En route to Vijayawada. July 2012. © Nishant Ratnakar

A year without a job… But not without work!

Yes! It has been exactly one year since I last stepped out of a workplace as an employee. At that moment, it wasn’t clear on how exactly I will get through the year. But, I had a clear plan on how I wanted to attempt reaching my goals. Yes, there were some surprises that came along the way.

September 15th, 2011… When I left for home from the newspaper office I worked for, there were lot of questions on my mind – Will I get enough projects, clients, and money to sustain myself? Would I manage to get enough work to lead a lifestyle that I was accustomed to?

But, the last one year of being a completely independent creative professional, and leading the life of a freelance documentary photographer and multimedia producer has been a busy one. It has been work, work, and more work. Of course, I had my share of fun too.

Six years back, when I left my job to change careers in the pursuit of photography, I had zero experience in what I wanted to do. But, it was the start that I needed. I never regret that start with no experience. It was that leap of faith, a shift from my comfort zone. I built a new life from scratch.

After five years, it was time for another leap of faith. This time I had experience, some clarity, and more importantly confidence, to support me as I went ahead with the goal of being my own boss in the business of photography and visual story-telling.

It has been a phenomenal year with a strong learning curve from real life experiences. There is now more diversity in the work that I do. I have applied my knowledge of visual story-telling to all possible areas apart from conventional editorial photography. I got to work with NGO, non-mainstream media platforms, corporate houses, and individuals. I did a range of assignments right from producing multimedia projects and short-films for Non-profit groups and corporates, to capturing fleeting moments at weddings. Traveled a lot, on work and also to present personal projects at festivals and public events. Won an accolade for a photo-story at a national press photography contest held in India this year. In the process of all this I got interviewed and featured quite a few times in the media.

As a creative freelance professional, I would like to say one important thing  to all fellow freelancers reading this blog. You may be a documentary photographer like me, or a writer or even a musician. You are talented. But, remember that if you are making a living on your own out of your creative talents, then you are no different from an entrepreneur. The work that you do is a proper business. Your creations may or may not be tangible, but ultimately you are selling an idea, a service or a product to a market for consumption or patronage. So you have to put on the hat of an entrepreneur or a businessman. You have to create an identity for yourself, promote your work (nobody will do this for you), get noticed, constantly engage with your clients and patrons of your work, strike good deals, manage your accounts, and constantly innovate in your work.

It has been a tiring and equally fulfilling  year of being my own boss. I think I finally deserve a holiday. A week after having reached this personal milestone, another milestone in life waits for me. This is a big one! I am getting married! And then follows a much awaited long holiday with my wife.

Cya folks!

– Nishant

(Note: If you like my work, then please do share the link to this website with others. Also, if you’d like to support me in my projects, then feel free to  Flattr me. Flattr is a social micro-payment system. Alternately, you can even buy my Books/E-books. Or maybe even buy a fine-art print.)

Nishant Ratnakar
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Nishant Ratnakar

Photographer | Visual Storyteller at www.nishantratnakar.com
Nishant is a Bangalore, India based Wedding, Portrait & Editorial Photographer. He is available for assignments across India. He also conducts photography workshops and offers personal photography mentorship.
Nishant Ratnakar
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Vivek Muthuramalingam
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Vivek Muthuramalingam

Congrats on another milestone Nishant! Proud to have known you. Hmm, but I don’t entirely agree with everything that you have said 🙂 For some of the artists (including photographers) sincerity to the art and its cause is more important than all the strategies to help eke a living out of them. More than the thrill of having your work seen by the audience of a festival or putting you up on the list of awardees is that thrill of pursuing a passion without even the responsibility of sustenance. I believe that true pursuit needs to come from within and certainly… Read more »

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nishantratnakar

Hi vivek! Glad to hear from you. Have you stopped using your yahoo mail? 🙂 had mailed you an invite for a personal event 🙂 Yes, True pursuit comes from within and certainly needs no validation from anyone. Not denying that. What, I share here is my views on strategies to make a livelihood. Photography indeed is a gift of creativity that even I shall always enjoy, cherish and share. Photography is not business, But making a livelihood out of photography is indeed a business. Making livelihood out of anything is a business. I disagree on putting sustenance on a… Read more »

Vivek Muthuramalingam
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Vivek Muthuramalingam

I did not say sustenance should be given less priority but asserting the fact that it shouldn’t shape your career, especially since it is primarily driven by passion. I have known many photographers who come into the scene wanting to do photojournalism and documentary but switch over to wedding photography simply because it pays more! And over a period of time their interest in photography wanes off too, not surprisingly. To stick to your true calling takes lot more guts than to begin following them..

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nishantratnakar

Vivek, I guess it is on how one strikes a balance between commercial and personal projects. Yes, Photography is passion driven, and my view is that the passion shouldn’t die down if you are working on projects that interest you, be it personal project or a commercial projects. Wedding Photojournalism is also a form of commercial photography but having visual story-telling in it. If it is just money that one chases in any profession, I guess the passion will surely die down. And I am not advocating to chase only money here. I shared on this post the strategies that… Read more »

drvivekm
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drvivekm

Congrats on another milestone Nishant! Proud to have known you. Hmm, but I don’t entirely agree with everything that you have said 🙂 For some of the artists (including photographers) sincerity to the art and its cause is more important than all the strategies to help eke a living out of them. More than the thrill of having your work seen by the audience of a festival or putting you up on the list of awardees is that thrill of pursuing a passion without even the responsibility of sustenance. I believe that true pursuit needs to come from within and certainly… Read more »

Guest
nishantratnakar

Hi vivek! Glad to hear from you. Have you stopped using your yahoo mail? 🙂 had mailed you an invite for a personal event 🙂 Yes, True pursuit comes from within and certainly needs no validation from anyone. Not denying that. What, I share here is my views on strategies to make a livelihood. Photography indeed is a gift of creativity that even I shall always enjoy, cherish and share. Photography is not business, But making a livelihood out of photography is indeed a business. Making livelihood out of anything is a business. I disagree on putting sustenance on a… Read more »

drvivekm
Guest
drvivekm

I did not say sustenance should be given less priority but asserting the fact that it shouldn’t shape your career, especially since it is primarily driven by passion. I have known many photographers who come into the scene wanting to do photojournalism and documentary but switch over to wedding photography simply because it pays more! And over a period of time their interest in photography wanes off too, not surprisingly. To stick to your true calling takes lot more guts than to begin following them..

Guest
nishantratnakar

Vivek, I guess it is on how one strikes a balance between commercial and personal projects. Yes, Photography is passion driven, and my view is that the passion shouldn’t die down if you are working on projects that interest you, be it personal project or a commercial projects. Wedding Photojournalism is also a form of commercial photography but having visual story-telling in it. If it is just money that one chases in any profession, I guess the passion will surely die down. And I am not advocating to chase only money here. I shared on this post the strategies that… Read more »

Mayank
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Mayank

Sir ,
          this is my story which have you written. I have no capital money to start sketching of my dream to documentary  film maker . Please guide me.