I like the fact that Raj says all you need is a camera and a 50mm 1.8 to get started. Sidenote i’m actually writing a eBook on that at the moment, end plug 🙂 … Raj emailed me his story and when I finally saw his work (email got lost, sorry) I was sure he would be able to offer some inspiration or advice to some of the RAW regulars, so have a read then check out his work.
Tell us a little about yourself?
Hey! My name is Raj Sandhu (I know, I am brown and there are probably thousands of people with the name “Raj!”) I am 21 years old from Edmonton, Alberta, Canada where it snows practically eight months of the year! By the time October comes around, we will have a couple feet of snow by then! I am currently working fulltime at a local treasury bank in the city here for the past two years. It’s odd that I am a photographer and a banker. It’s a weird combination, I know. Another cool job I used to do was be a specialist at the Apple store, which by the way, was one of my favorite jobs! I am a huge Apple fan as some of you already may know, it’s how I roll I guess. I love cars – just because they are epic! – And Top Gear is the best car show out there. End of story.
Some of my favorite things to do are finding new music, meeting new people, hanging out with friends/family, and of course, go on random adventures, and travelling.
What made you get into photography?
Being raised in an east indian family, photography didn’t follow the standard norm. It was all about becoming a doctor and/or engineer and what not (and don’t get me wrong! Getting an education is a must in my opinion) So right after high school, I went to a university in the city and took bachelor of Sciences for two years, and I have to say, I hated it. You think Sciences was fun in high School? Wait till you take Bachelor of Sciences for two years! It just wasn’t my cup of tea. So then I tried to find interest in something else by taking a few part time courses and well, that didn’t really work out. So I dropped out, got a solid job at a bank, worked at the Apple store for a bit. After that, in August 10′, my grandpa came down to visit and he used to be a photographer back in the day! He now just had a Sony DSLR and I used it for a little while and just loved how clear and sharp the pictures were with that damn thing! I was amazed! After being inspired by him, I decided, “hey what the hell lets go buy a DSLR!” So I bought a Canon XS (best starter camera I think) and just started shooting! And now, here I am today, continuing to do what I absolutely love!
How did you get started?
Well as I was saying before about how my grandpa jump-started my life and career in photography, I started out by taking photos of random objects. That led to pictures of flowers, those little Amazon cardboard box things, and literally anything I could find in the house or outside. After getting the hang of my first DSLR, I decided to upgrade to the Canon T2i (which is another brilliant camera.) Played around with that for a bit, and then started to shoot more around the city, just to get a feel for the camera. After that, I decided to take a quick crash course on learning about exposure/shutter/aperture all that good stuff for four days and found it so helpful! So after learning all about that stuff, I started to shoot cars. This was a good experience because it helped me learn how to take photos and experiment with light and different locations. After a few months of doing photo shoots with cars, I decided to take a crack at portraiture and wow! I have to say, that was a whole new world I got myself into! It was interesting. I did a few portraits for friends, and I got a message from a fellow brotographer, Johnny Yacoub, telling me that I sucked and that I shouldn’t edit portraits as I would with cars (which was true at the time, I didn’t really know much about editing portraits, so I would edit it the same way I would if it was a car.) It was a really good wakeup call because if it wasn’t for him, I think I would still continue to have de-saturated, bad looking photos! He basically slapped me across the face via a Facebook message. And I totally deserved it, because after he gave me a few tips, I re-edited a shot I took and I was amazed at how different it looked compared to my previous edit! So props to him for guiding me in the right direction!
Sorry for that long story, I promise the rest will be short!
What sort of photography do you mainly do?
I have been shooting portraits for the past few months and have been really getting into it lately! I just recently shot my first two weddings ever and I loved the experience! Mainly, it’s working with models and doing lifestyle like shoots, which I enjoy the most! Natural light is my favorite! Just saying.
I would like to play around with my studio lights more for shoots in the near future! Maybe when this city turns into a winter wonderland for not one month, but eight months, I could get some practice.
What gear are you using?
I will just list what I have!
Canon 5D MK II, Canon AE-1, 50mm f/1.4, 85mm f/1.8, 35L, 135L, Canon 430 EX II, AB1600, and a AB800.
What’s your favorite lens and why?
Damn, this is a hard question because I love my entire collection. If I had to choose one, it would have to be the Canon 35L that I have! It is on my camera most of the time. It’s such a versatile lens! I love the wide-angle that it has with almost no distortion. The bokeh that it gives is killer, and the depth of field is nuts on it! I prefer prime lens (as you can tell from my collection!) but I do plan on renting some telephoto lens and maybe even like a tilt shift just to try some different things out.
How are you marketing yourself?
Flickr and Facebook is number one on my list! Flickr is where all my work gets posted. Facebook is great because it’s free marketing! Might as well take advantage of it, right? Also, I have a small website with 500px. I am still in the process of making a blog and a proper website. But so far, with what I have, it’s been doing the job just fine to be honest! I find that word of mouth in this industry is the best type of marketing. If you put in your best in every shoot you do, you never know who you will impress when that client show their photos to other people! Most of my clients have been friends of friends, or just people who randomly stumble upon my work on Facebook!
What’s your favorite photo you have taken?
Oh man! This is a tough question because I don’t have one favorite picture! I have three that are my favorite! I notice that every new shoot I do, I learn something new and improve on my current skills every time I shoot!
Advice for new photographers looking to go pro?
Be yourself. Don’t let anyone bring you down and discourage you. The things you do, help define who you really are inside and that’s what makes each photographer different! Also, don’t be afraid to ask for help. There are so many great photographers in this world and they are all so willing to help and give you tips and tricks. Flickr is great for that because of the massive community! Meet new photographers and always lo ok for new inspiration! Don’t go and buy the most expensive camera as your first DSLR. Go buy a Canon XS or XSi (I am a Canon guy, clearly) and get a 50mm f/1.8. That’s honestly all you need to do to start learning! Be open when someone comes and says “Oh, maybe next time, try this, or this.” Be open to those new ideas. That’s what will help you learn and become a better photographer!