When I started my career in photography, people did not take me seriously and often poked fun at me. I even chopped off my hair to fit into the male bastion. I had set a goal for myself – to capture a magnified view of life, especially mine. Many a time, I went to cover events at my own expense; I was determined to prove myself. Today, those who did not see any value in my work respect my achievements.
My coverage of the 1991 Uttarkashi earthquake made a space for me as a photojournalist. I slept on roads for a week to capture the disaster in Uttarkashi, which was also battered by several diseases. My hard work paid off and around 50 of my photographs were carried in various publications.
Covering the Kargil war in 1999 earned me a National Award. I have also covered riots, the coal mines in Dhanbad, the Gujarat earthquake and the Himalayan car rally. My depiction of these events have earned me accolades. But I feel, it is my grit more than my work that people appreciate.
Initially, it was difficult to survive as a photographer as the cost of developing and printing films was high. The NGO, which helped me get out of a brutal marriage, also had me trained as a beautician. So, I carried on working as a beautician to keep my passion burning. During those days, people generally felt that photographers were not educated. I was also a simple matriculate, so I decided to complete my graduation.
Today, it is over 25 years since I first picked up the camera. I have met the goals I started with; right from education to passion. I enjoy each day of my life as a photojournalist, mountaineer and motorcyclist. When free, I visit rural areas and teach photography to underprivileged children. I believe that people should not hesitate to take risks on any front of life. It’s only when you take a risk that you realize your true potential.