It is the diverse faculty and the curriculum of the photography course that attracted me to join SACAC. It was only after a lot of research that I came across an institution that was actually interested in providing quality education. Prior to joining SACAC I had a very narrow approach to photography and was not clear as to how I would like to take it up as a career. The course made me realise that there is much more to photography than I could have ever imagined. There were times during the course when I felt that it’s all going to fall apart and that I’m going to fail miserably, however the constant motivation kept me going. I was given the freedom to express myself in whatever way I wanted to but the guidance never stopped. I have grown tremendously, both as a photographer and as a human being.
I decided to join SACAC for the faculty that comes in to teach and for its library. I also spoke to the alumni and realised that one gets huge exposure studying here. I don’t think I would have gotten the experience that I had here anywhere else. I was forced to think and explore in every possible way. I was pushed to question my own beliefs and mindset and as a result I am more confident and look at life differently.
It has been very exciting for me to be part of this course because we have been learning about so many different disciplines of photography. I had no idea that these various genres of photography even existed. We have been working inside the studio, on the streets doing photo journalism and documentary work. Basically, we have been doing so many different things. It's not like a photo pose where you just lean back on the sofa and enjoy it. You really have to work hard in order to make the result that you want. During this course we were in Pondicherry where round the clock working on a photo project. It was great to be pulled out of the everyday context of our everyday lives in Delhi and just live, sleep, eat and breathe photography around the clock for almost two weeks. And just on that trip alone I learned so much. Somehow it was here that all the elements that we had learnt up to the point came together. For me, it was one of the most exciting things of the course at SACAC.
The biggest learning that I take away from SACAC besides the image making and everything that surrounds it is probably something more personal. I am a serious person and an introvert. I am also very career minded and I have tried everything from engineering to medical to being a geologist and ended up studying English literature and now I am into photography . I am shy by nature and I don't talk to people much, but when I picked up the camera this problem started to fade and I have been able to communicate more easily. I think I have developed a lot in that sense. The camera has made it easier for me to communicate. For me it is a tool that helps me navigate and reach out to people. Having studied at SACAC, I realise that photography is much more to me than just making pictures. Also, creativity is best nurtured when you are motivated and inspired and the faculty at SACAC does exactly that. Each faculty member helps us in various ways throughout the course. They push us out of our comfort zone and sometimes give us deadlines that are not realistic. But all of this helps to prepare us for the real, professional world outside. Each faculty here is a practising artist which means that we are constantly aware of what is happening out there in the world of photography. And this has inspired me a lot.
After finishing my schooling and college, I had no idea what to do with my life. A friend, who happened to be an alumni from SACAC suggested that I should pursue a course in photography. I took up her advice though in reality I had no prior experience in making images. While pursuing the course, we were taught documentary, photojournalism, street photography and also the studio in which we were taught portraiture and still life. During the course there was huge emphasis on post production using Photoshop and Lightroom. We also did a fabulous vintage printing workshop that I was absolutely fascinated with. Amongst all the genres of photography that were taught to us, photojournalism is something that I absolutely do not wish to pursue. However the genres of photography that interest me are documentary, architectural and studio. After completing the course, I realise that this experience has given me a certain direction in life and given me confidence to become a professional photographer.
Proneet De Kashyap
Studying at SACAC has been the most exciting time of my life and I say this with complete honesty. It was not like going to any regular institute or to a school. Attending classes meant watching films, looking at photographers’ works, analyzing and critiquing fellow students’ assignments. It also meant disciplining myself in the craft. And I soon realized that photography for me could not just be a hobby any more, it had to become a way of life. Visiting the library and being exposed to international photography has given a certain direction to my own photographic practice. I have also learnt that as a photographer, with a camera in our hands, we are in a position of privilege and power and that necessitates that we be responsible, sensitive and ethical in every situation. Immediately after completing the course, SACAC provided me with the opportunity to work with photographer Amit Pasricha on his book India Lost & Found, which is about the lesser known monuments of India and has led me to travel across India over the last few months. SACAC has indeed given me the confidence and skill set to work with professionals in the industry.
This course is a journey of self-discovery which will cause confusion in the beginning and it will throw a lot of questions at your face and once you start questioning yourself you will eventually discover what you really want to do and how you really want the world to see you. It's only when you start questioning yourself that you start finding answers and you start discovering who you really are and what you really want to do and that is something which this course has taught me. There's a huge misconception that photography is fun and very easy to do and that you can just ‘do’ it with a ‘chalta hai’ attitude. This is what I also thought before joining the course. I was totally directionless. The course at SACAC gave me a direction, showed me how I could take my image making forward, helped me in finding my own perception. I have been inspired. I am still going through that process, however, I have come very far from where I was when I had just started the course.
While I was studying at Symbiosis, I seriously thought that I could do something really good with photography if I wished to take it forward. I thought I knew enough about it. However, when I joined SACAC, I understood I did not even know the ‘P’ of it. I can say with certainty that when people take up photography as a career they have no idea about the seriousness of it, they think it’s only fun. I have had people come and say to me that ‘you are doing photography and are just having fun’. I’d like to say that it’s not as simple as it seems. You have to work hard to become even a decent photographer.
Rather than becoming a self-taught photographer, I decided to enrol for the photography course at SACAC. I had no prior knowledge about this art form and wanted to go through a structured course to understand this medium better. Before I joined, a good photograph to me meant that of a landscape, of flowers and birds and a clear blue sky. In addition to honing my technical skills, my understanding now of what a good image is has drastically changed. I have been able to develop a language of my own that is unique. I have realised that it's very important to develop one’s own visual aesthetics and keep working on it. We were told innumerable times that everything has been photographed and that can also be a source of inspiration. However, what we bring to it, our own life experiences, our own aesthetics, that is what will make the work unique. The course has pushed me to think as to what I wish to achieve out of my photography? I have for quite some time, been driven to make photographs, but to convey what? I find myself always questioning my motive.
The photography course at SACAC has altered my way of seeing and understanding of photography. I have learned that a good photograph is not always a pretty photograph. I have also learned how to use photography as a tool to address problems and issues not only in society but also how to address them within ourselves. I am more observant to every day mundane things and at the cost of sounding cliched, I’ll add that I try to find beauty in the most unlikely places. The basic definition of beauty and darkness has changed for me and now everything for me exists in shades of grey. I have also understood that while on a project, it’s not only ‘what’ it is that you create, the more important question to address is ‘why’ do you want to create. Photography has given me a sense of purpose and taught me how important it is to keep creating work.
The knowledge and exposure that SACAC seemed to offer made me decide to study photography here. The experience has been great. I have not only learnt about photography, I have also learnt a lot about life here. The course makes you change how you look at life; makes you see how a very simple or small thing can be of great value. I am amazed by the kind of energy one is inspired here to put in to doing assignments. You just can’t have a casual attitude towards photography, it has to become a part of you, it has to become something that you want to live for.
I didn’t know that this course could teach me something that was beyond photography. That it would expose me to literature, cinema, painting and perhaps all sorts of art. I initially had lots of hesitations about going out in the street and talking to people but through a lot of street photography assignments and a lot of documentary assignments, I see myself as a more confident human being who can approach anyone on the streets and talk to them. I feel this course is a perfect combination where one learns technical skills and aesthetics that comes with a creative vision which eventually become your own style. During the photojournalism workshop, we all worked as a team and compiled our work together and made a magazine. Working on the magazine exposed us to photo editing, the relevance of text and how magazines are laid out. We visited innumerable photo exhibitions where each artist walked us through their works and we realised how each artist’s experience is unique. This was very inspiring. I also got to know, that I could further develop my skills and become a photo editor, a curator or a photo archivist.
I joined SACAC after completing my Bachelors in Fine Arts from College of Arts, New Delhi. The fact that the course focussed on the documentary genre got me interested. Also, the fact that the faculty teaching here were all practising professionals from the industry seemed unparalleled anywhere else. When I joined, I was unsure if photography was the thing for me and till much later I kept having doubts. However, as the course progressed, and we experienced the various modules, I understood photography, the art, better. I loved doing the various assignments — be it waking up before sunrise and documenting my walk to the metro station or going to Chandni Chowk and documenting it’s pulse or to travel to a new town and document a space I can relate to or just sit at home and make self-portraits — every assignment thrilled me with its newness and also scared me with the challenges it presented. From being reluctant and shy to photograph strangers, I can now go out, pick up the camera and shoot without being bothered by the crowd. Earlier, my style of making images was quite simple and straightforward, however, with every successive assignment the understanding of a photograph kept changing. A simple frame started to feel incomplete and became redundant, so I started experimenting with my work. I explored various techniques like multiple exposures, working with harsh light, incorporating my graphic design skills to be able to express my story better. Along with techniques, my themes also changed, I started looking within. The photo-stories got personal and the ways of portrayal got experimental. Once the course was over, SACAC provided me with the opportunity to work on archiving photographer Avinash Pasricha’s lifetime of work.