I am an independent Photographer & Visual Storyteller from Bangalore, India. Being from the beer capital of the country, it goes without saying that I love the brew as much as I love my morning cup of tea. If you’d rather skip reading my story written here and hear it straight from the horse’s mouth instead, you have a choice of buying me either of the two drinks during our conversations.
My personal photography journey began as a young adult. Thanks to my dad, photographs were an intrinsic part our family life. Testimony to the fact is the vast collection of photo albums at home, documenting our family life, from mundane portraits to family holidays.
Like most Bangaloreans of my time, I studied to be a Software Engineer at an Engineering College. After hopping from playing the guitar and saxophone, and writing short stories and poems all through my undergrad years, photography eventually happened to me.
I used to travel a lot with my friends, and in the course of writing one of those travelogues, I discovered the power of a photograph in telling a story by itself. And then my life changed forever.
Well, not immediately. I graduated and started working as a software developer at IBM. After a year in the IT industry, I decided to answer my true calling of being a photographer. I quit my job and went on a self-learning curve of being a photojournalist. The decision was little shocking and reckless. Shocking, because the family struggled to come to terms with my decision. Reckless, because I had a 40 lakh housing loan over my head and depleting bank account (Note, the chapter on how I got out of this mess is exclusively reserved for the ones who buy me a drink).The Journey
I hit the streets of Bangalore learning photography on my own. I got my hands dirty on photo walks, interacted with photographers in the city, struggled to find a contact who could give me that one break in professional photography. Eventually, it all paid off, and I got a freelance gig at a local newspaper. There, I did a series of interesting assignments before I landed a full-time job as a staff photographer.
Yes, life began from scratch. One of the experiences I take from this rather difficult phase of my life is that people are your important resources. Many thanks to those friends who could lend me their cameras, friends who put me in touch with people in the newspaper, and to my family who didn’t throw me out of home for my eccentricity.
Post that, I spent nearly five years working as a staff photojournalist for various publications across India. In this phase, I bagged a few awards and scholarships for my work. I traveled to Cambodia first, to participate in photo festival and to train in a documentary photography workshop. Later, I went to the Philippines under a full scholarship program to do a Diploma in Photojournalism. By the time, things were falling into place and parents were happy about the fact that my life was shaping up, I decided to shock them again. I decided to quit my full-time job at the newspapers and start freelancing (God, forgive me for putting my parents through all this trouble).And then, Love found me
Yes! you read it right. Quite unconventional, but love did find me in a strange manner. Swapna – my wife – I bet is as eccentric as I am for her to have agreed to marry me. So, she became the partner in crime and witness to the next phase of my life of being an independent freelance photographer. And you are reading this biography in the same phase of my life.The Visual Storyteller
During the time I spent at the newspapers, I already had discovered that people were my favorite subjects to shoot. People’s lives gave me ideas and inspirations to new photographic projects. I am a sucker for stories. From the mundane to life’s greatest journeys, I love to find an interesting thread and listen to all of them. So, I love to photograph people and tell their stories. Yes, I am a Visual Storyteller.
Weddings in India are like festivals. There is a sea of humanity at every wedding. As a documentary photographer, I got fascinated by the idea to embed myself at a wedding (like an embedded journalist) and photograph the weddings from my perspective. An embedded documentary photographer at a wedding (and not at a war zone for a change) was I how I saw myself. And that is how I started shooting weddings in an unscripted and candid manner, in the style of a documentary photographer.
Being a people photographer, one of the things that I enjoy a lot is to observe people. In the process, I love to make portraits that capture aspects of their personalities or lifestyles. Portraiture after all is one of the oldest forms storytelling. From personal photographic requirements of families, couples and newborns, to portrait assignments for Non-profits, Editorial clients, and corporates, I love to shoot them all.
Today, I do a range of photography and visual storytelling assignments. From individuals, corporates, non-profits, and to editorial clients, everyone has a photographic need where my style of work finds a perfect match.
My name is Nishant Ratnakar. I am a Visual Storyteller, and this is my personal story.The next step – Conversations
If my work and my story has struck a chord with you, and if you think I can work on any photography or Visual Storytelling project with you, then feel free to contact me via this contact form. Maybe, after that we can soon meet for a conversation over Beer or Tea (or any brew you like), and go ahead with an assignment that tells a story.