Great success stories are rather unusual. They are not embarked on a definite path, but rather have many U-turns. This philosophy best interprets the example of Tarun Khiwal, a leading Indian photographer.
So who would have thought that a professional engineer can win the Hasselblad master award (comparable to ‘Oscars’ for Photography) or be the first Indian to do the covers of Red Herring magazine. But, these are just some of the highlights of the marathon list of achievements of the 40 year-old lens man, who has the experience of doing the portfolios of who’s who of the fashion industry. Addressing himself as “people’s photographer”, he developed a keen interest towards photography in his late teens. Call it his initial reservations that he had to follow his family’s wish to become an engineer. But, destiny had something else in store for him, “After a certain point I just couldn’t continue my job as an engineer. It took the life out of me. For me, photography is the air I breathe. I can’t imagine my life without it”, he explains.
Apart from an array of awards, Tarun has also made India proud in more ways than one. “There was this student who called me from London and asked if he could do his training under me. It feels so proud because I am not a Sitar player that has a rich Indian history. Photography never originated in India. It is something we have acquired from west. So watching this chap coming all the way from London to India was a delight”, he remembers with joy.
Apart from photography what delight him the most are movies, he confesses that he watches at least one movie a day, “I am a complete movie buff. From Japan to Taiwan, I have watched it all. ‘Life is Beautiful’ is my all-time favorite.” His fascination for movies and stars doesn’t end here. “Brad Pitt”, “Johnny Depp”, “Madonna” are some of the stars he wishes to shoot some day. But despite this success and adventure, he admits that it’s difficult to make a career in an offbeat profession like photography. He quotes, “We Indians have a rigid mindset about education. We believe that education is all about being doctors and engineers. These prejudices need to change so that talent can be realized more easily.”
One thing he feels makes a good photographer is the originality factor, “I want to advise the young photographers to never get influenced by someone’s work in such a manner that you loose your originality. Remember your pictures are your identity.”
And he signs off with this thought provoking statement…