We connected at “This is the moment when people quit, I am going to do the opposite and stay on this path” Plus his new found love for the gym has us talking for hours on end. It’s always a great experience to meet Ashish Gurbani, a name we’ve grown to associate with some of the best photography work in Pune. It doesn’t matter what you do or where you come from, Ashish will talk to you of future plans and concepts he’s thought of, and will leave you feeling empowered. It was during one such breakfast conversation when I realised I needed to get him on here (what should have been done last year is finally being penned down now)
A steaming cup of hot mocha lies forgotten on the table at the newly opened Coffee Jar as Ashish Gurbani takes me through this knowledge sharing experience. Excerpts –
Was photography always the plan?
Will you believe me if I said no? I was interested in photography when I was 17, but I never considered it to be anything more than a hobby. At a time when being an engineer or a doctor or an MBA was the only option, we couldn’t even dare to think of experimenting with our professions. On one of those nights after graduation when I did nothing other than playing games & watching movies all night; I realised I needed to do something about this “hobby” and signed up for a course the next day. Yeah, it took me one night, and I’ve not looked back since then.
Isn’t it the best thing to look back upon the start of something beautiful and feel so good about yourself for having taken that risk? That satisfaction is seen on Ashish’s face as he tells me about where it all started from.
If it hadn’t been for that night…what would you have been doing today?
I saw myself in the field of advertising. I love the challenge of a new market with every product that there is to advertise. New people, new trends, such a dynamic user demographic, it is all so exciting!
This is the point where I have to chip in and exchange notes on how advertising is such a stimulating field for me too- there’s just a lot to connect over, you see it now?
If not a photographer, I would have been a creative director.
You chose to work closely with the fashion industry. How did that happen?
Fashion is a way of living. Everyone has their unique sense of style, everyone is contributing to fashion. I love to see how unique everyone is. I wanted to study that. I wanted to understand this way of living.
I’ve worked with this industry before, I know it isn’t easy. It’s way too aggressive for me :D How did it all start?
It was difficult, I completely agree with you. Getting to become a fashion photographer was a lengthy procedure which involved a year long internship with an established photographer in Mumbai.Once the internship was over, I started experimenting with my concepts and slowly practice made me better at my game. It’s been so exciting!
He’s positively beaming by now and I can’t help but smile along. Isn’t it lovely to see people doing what they love? I LOVE the power of such satisfaction and passion.
I’ve seen you work on some CRAZY concepts! Two questions- what keeps you motivated and when am I going to be a part of one of these amazing concepts?
We can shoot you now! Seriously! (I like how he addressed my second question first- I’ve made a mental note to tick this shoot off my bucket list soon haha)
If you love what you do, in my opinion that is motivation enough to do something new with each project. I wake up with this beautiful thought that what I am doing is making me happy, and that is all that matters. I want to think of new and unique concepts. Brainstorming is a continuous process, I take inspiration from every little thing, I make mental notes, I monitor my results. It doesn’t feel like work because I love what I do.
We enter a lengthy discussion & I talk about the similar feeling I get while blogging.
This process of thinking of new things is more personal than professional. If something doesn’t make me happy I don’t do it.
Most independent, stand alone careers and businesses (like full-time blogging) have seen a lukewarm response in Pune. Was it the same with you? Was there ever a point where you thought “let’s shift to Plan B?”
Never! I have been pushed to my limits and I’ve known people would have quit, I can even think of some photographers who’ve quit when the going got tough. But that’s a part and parcel of it all! It depends on how badly you want something, and how smart are you willing to be about it. I am not someone who gives up. Plan B was never an option.
(he sounds so much like me!)
What was the most challenging project that you’ve worked on?
Every project I work on has been challenging in its own way. By far I think the most challenging shoot I did was for an international brand with a reputed agency. The client increased the scope of work by 30% whereas the budget was still the same.. I had no choice but to continue the project and finish it with my best efforts to maintain a good name in the industry.
Okay tell me, you must have some favorites.
David Lachapelle, Mario Testino, Vikram bawa and Tarun Khiwal are a few photographers whose work I really admire.
Do you have a muse? Which celebrity would you choose if you had the option to?
Nope, I don’t have a muse yet. The hunt is on….
If I had the choice, I wouldn’t choose a celebrity to be my muse. I’d choose a crazy fashion model. There are too many to pick from so don’t ask me to name one.
Do you have a 5 year plan?
YES! In 5 years I see myself doing something more than photography. There are various plans that are in the pipeline currently. These involve films, an agency, and a new city (!!)
New city! What about Pune? How has it been for you?
When I moved here from Mumbai, I knew nobody from the industry here. I had to test the waters. I was patient and I eventually began to establish my brand in the city. Pune is a very small market. It is rich, yes, but small too. It is still has to reach its full potential.
Are there any particular learnings you’d like to share with us? Things that Pune has taught you maybe?
I’ve learnt a ton of things in the last few years. Every project, I believe, is a learning experience. Pune has been lovely, and it will always be special. A few things I’d like to share, be it any field or industry- always keep up any commitments that you make; always deliver more than the client expects; be smart and tidy when it comes to work (it works wonders for your confidence and mood too!) and from time to time , a break is necessary. Don’t let anyone make you feel guilty for taking a break.
Taking a break can get so difficult, especially when you enjoy what you do. You don’t realise it, but you end up working 24×7. It took me a couple of years to break out of that.
How do you relax at the end of a long day?
I’ve been going to the gym, it’s relaxing and extremely refreshing at the end of a busy day at work (I look at him with so much pride, I am afraid I will feel tears of happiness in my eyes soon)
Welcome to the #FitFam!
It’s amazing, I know right! Makes you feel so happy!
What do you do when you’re feeling low?
I go out for a long drive. Or play games. Or keep myself occupied watching movies .
If there’s one thing you want to share with budding photographers, what would you tell them?
Never give up. Good things take time. You need to be patient if you want to see results! Always follow your heart and shoot exactly how you want to. Don’t try to replicate an existing piece of work, it’s going to get you nowhere.
We sign off soon after this chat got over, but with a promise to meet again and discuss some new ideas, concepts and a possible collaboration, this time over the best freakshakes in Pune (I’ve heard the ones at Mocha are great. Anyone got any recommendations to help us out here?)
Catch ya later folks!