An Honest Guide to Walking The Line of Passion

Photographed by Darshana at Lion’s Rock, Sigiriya January 2015.

Call it the new age, latest trend or corporate evolution — everyone seems to be talking about passion (or lack or it). We’ve talked about it so much, that it’s actually seen as more of a fad, some fancy word that Gen Y and Z tend to use as an excuse when they can’t seem to land the job they want, or if they want to get out of something they’re already doing.

Here’s a story of my passion, and how following that passion has honestly panned out for me. Here’s hoping that this sharing will help others on the same path know that they’re not alone in their ‘dark nights’, and they’re treading the right road.
Note : This story is entirely an individual opinion and experience. This does not necessarily apply to others who may have taken the same road.

2012–2014 : The Years That Were

2012 was a truly life changing year. Nothing absolutely drastic occurred, but it was the year I decided that I had had enough of working in PR/Communications, attending to clients and burning the midnight oil. After a very long and exhaustive project for a client, I finally decided to call it quits — I wasn’t feeling a drive anymore. It felt like I had been wrung out to dry, with nothing left inside. I could see a little spark of light somewhere, and that was related to the immense joy I derived from holding a camera in my hand. Yup — photography was something I enjoyed, and for a while I had been working on freelance projects (small time stuff, nothing really big enough that would warrant me quitting my stable, well paying PR job).

So I quit in October, and took time off to start a new chapter — being my own boss. At first it was so exciting — the adrenaline rush, the feeling of creating new things, no one to report to but myself, making my own rules, doing my own thing…what an adventure! But then reality started to sink in as you grow and make progress, mistakes, bad decisions, good connections…its a whole new chapter altogether.

I remember thinking many times about reconsidering this decision that I made. I also remember thinking about sticking to it no matter what. All the things you read about in articles and books about passion — some of it is true, some of it isn’t. It’s not all pretty flowers and bright blue skies. In fact, it’s a lot of dark storms, and rainy days. The key really, is to keep swimming, even when the tide becomes too strong. After 3 years of doing photography full time and now heading PR/Communications for a startup business training consultancy, here’s a little list of insights I’ve learned on my journey of walking the line of passion.

1. Passion alone isn’t going to get you through it all.

It’s good to keep passion at the forefront, but never overuse this word with clients or people you meet. Passion keeps the work alive, but skill and practicality keeps the business going. To run a business, it is very important to know all the basics. If you can’t keep afloat, at some point — passion will wear out. So start reading, go for courses or understand business basics. Know how to keep track of cashflow, how to close a sales deal, what to say and not to say, how to charge and how to say NO.

In the early years, I undercharged, took on clients without screening,and basically allowed myself to be ripped off left, right and centre. Always know market rate — always know what you are worth. And never ever settle for anything less. It someone truly appreciates your work, they will hire you anyway.

2. Not everyone will understand your journey.

It takes a lot of guts to go cold turkey. There will be times even you will question your decision, especially when you can clearly see that the road you’ve chosen to take is sooo different from everyone else’s. You will lose motivation, gain some, and then lose some again..very normal in the teething years. Don’t expect to see something spectacular happen in the first couple of years (although there have been exceptions). Always remind yourself why you started in the first place — that will help keep you moving forward. Make conscious decisions, and commit to them without compromise. A little everyday will see fruit in the long run.

3. Try not to limit your scope of work. Creativity doesn’t have boundaries.

I’ve always known that I am a highly creative person. However, I made a serious mistake of limiting that creativity to only photography when I started, thinking that focus would be a good driving force for me. Instead, it really made me lose out on a lot of opportunities. My creativity actually spills over to things like creative thoughtflow, creative writing, designing, and things that I used to do in PR — branding, creating PR campaigns and story ideas, communication strategy, etc. By limiting myself, I actually denied so much of creative energy from manifesting into tangible results. This year, heading Insaight Consultancy’s PR & Communications is my way of ‘unlimiting’ myself. And I have to tell you — it’s very liberating! Never limit yourself. You never know what you’re capable of until you try.

And I discovered a whole new realm of expression through the simple act of scribbling (yes, scribbling!). I never thought of myself as an artist before, but now I know that I actually do have a flair for creating art, in a way that means something to me and the experiences I go through daily.

4. Passion requires persistence.

Trust me, doing it alone means you’ll face many long nights and days alone. There’ll be days where you’d just want to give up and go back to what was safe and comfortable. There would be days where you’d question your decision, and doubt if it was actually the right one. And if you’re a woman, single and terribly determined to make it on your own — there is also an added pressure from family and society (this is an entirely personal view. I also know men who have made similar decisions, who’ve faced similar pressure. However, I really do feel women get it a little harder, even more so if you’re Indian!). Persist. Trust that this journey is meant to open up a world of endless creative possibilities for you, whatever that may be. See the difficulties as stepping stones to learn, grow and move further up. Be humble. Learn with a genuine want to absorb as much as you can from others. If something isn’t working — move on to something which can help keep that passion alive. Channel your passion so it adds value to things and environments around you. Always remember — you have something amazing to add to the world around you. Don’t keep it to yourself. And don’t give up.

5. Know what drives you.

Reaching a breaking point? Good. Take a breather. Reflect. Rest. Read. Realign. Early this year, I think I hit my breaking point. After 3 years, there have been major milestones in photography (nailing my first magazine cover, working with one of the top celebrity restaurant owners/chef in the country) and experiences I found less than pleasant (when clients fail to appreciate creativity, and are only interested in finding someone to ‘take photos’). I did a quick review and found that doing birthday parties and weddings were starting to drain me. It was sad — but it was true. That’s just the way the world is…sometimes, people just want a memory captured. They don’t really care if its taken in the most creative way or not, especially with events. So…I had to rethink my entire career focus. What is it that I want to do with photography? What story do I want my images to tell? Who do I want to work with? For the past 3 months, I have not been shooting. But in the downtime that photography brought, I found an opportunity to express the creativity that I know is inherent in me through working on Insaight’s PR and branding. A startup is a lot of work. It requires commitment, time, and a lot of energy. And most importantly — PASSION. Passion to make a difference through using images, design, creatives to transmute and share knowledge which will help millions change little things about their lives. Doing this made me realise that passion can find a drive in whatever you choose — but you need to be brave enough to step out of that comfort zone first. So find out what drives you.

I still run Anyaa Studios. But I know this year, my focus is shifting. No more weddings and events. It’s time to really make these images count. So lets see what happens when I express myself through the images I take :)

Insaight? This is a beautiful new adventure. We’re off to a good start, and I’m positive that Insaight will create insightful experiences for all that we work with. So when you walk this line of Passion…remember, like any other path, this is also a rollercoaster ride. So hold on, but don’t be afraid to let go and enjoy the dips and turns when they come along!