Your passion can get you noticed, like how Indian self-portrait photographer Akshay Jamwal experienced

By Jim James, Founder EASTWEST PR and Host of The UnNoticed Podcast.

Akshay Jamwal is one of India’s leading portrait photographers. However, it wasn’t originally his plan to use portraits as a means of marketing and separating himself from others. 

Image from LinkedIn

It started in 2012 when he was coming out of a dark place — a place that he got stuck in when a long relationship of his had ended. Together with his former partner, he had a photography business; his passion project (wherein he took a unique self-portrait every single day for 365 days) was a way for him to get his creative juices flowing again. Akshay considered the project as something that is fun to do, but as weeks and months progressed, more people have started to notice it. It reached a point wherein advertising agencies began reaching out to use his photographs.

Doing Something that You’re Passionate About

Akshay shares his photos on his Facebook page. Although his page only has a small following, his content became a testament that as long as you produce something good, it will eventually get noticed. Now, he has been doing self-portraits for around nine years already. 

Screengrab from Akshay Jamwal’s website

A lot of creative professionals and entrepreneurs tend to think that personal work is unimportant. However, for Akshay, it is these passion projects that will differentiate you from everyone else. And these are what clients typically notice. 

One thing that hinders many from being their authentic selves is showing something that may throw off other people in the process. A lot of people are afraid of others judging them. For instance, 90% of people on LinkedIn are considered lurkers (they simply scroll past the feed and don’t leave any comment). Akshay thinks that there shouldn’t be a limitation of any sort because it is a baseless kind of fear. Though some people might judge you, the world, at large, will want to see what you have to say as an individual. The fact that his photos — whose moods range from humorous to ostentatious — got traction, proves that people are interested in diversity. 

Being Visible and Consistent

When it comes to content creation, many entities are torn between using static and moving pictures. Akshay recommends using a mix. 

The percentage of your content that uses photos and videos will come down to individual strengths. If you ask photographers, they are going to tell you to share more photos. If you’re speaking to videographers, they will probably say that video is the best way to get your message across. If you’re talking to writers, they will say that text is best. Personally, Akshay finds that a mix of these will be helpful in attracting people’s attention.

The key, however, lies in your visibility. If you consistently show up on social media and update your website, you will get noticed.

Though people have the tendency to keep some content to themselves, Akshay recommends putting them out online. Even if you think that your output won’t pique the interest of your corporate clients, it can get attention from others. For example, when he uploaded his Pollinator Project on his website, someone who was writing for ecologists contacted him and asked permission to use one of his photos. Now, many of his photos from that project have become included in a magazine. 

Screengrab from Akshay Jamwal’s website

On Corporate Shots

Akshay says that there is no one-size-fits-all answer for concerns about featuring corporate shots on a website. It all depends on the company and the design of their website. 

Some companies don’t have the need to do as such. But for entrepreneurs and businesses that are just starting out, he advises adding professionally taken photographs. However, the images that should be used need to look natural — they have to look authentic.

Photography in India

When asked about his insights about the Indian market, Akshay shares that India is a bit of a strange country. It’s a dichotomy in so many ways. While there are certain markets that are hyper-developed, there are also those that don’t have any kind of visibility. 

In his country, most people think of photography as mainly fashion and commercial photography (though wedding photography has also boomed over the past 15 years). If you search up headshot photographers in India on Google, you’ll mostly find photographers who also do other things such as commercial and wedding photography. If you’re specialising only in one field, India is a strange country to be in.

When Akshay was only starting out, Indians would often ask him what a headshot is. Advertising himself as a headshot photographer, he would also encounter people who don’t even know what kind of photography it is that he does. It’s only today that clients in his country are finally realising the importance of headshots. 

The internet has played a critical role in making this possible. As people are now in an interconnected digital space, an Indian can now see how a professional-looking American or British person would look like. This prompted a surge in demand for headshots that can be uploaded on LinkedIn and other platforms. 

Screengrab from Akshay Jamwal’s website

Another challenge that Akshay faces when taking headshots is Indians’ being conscious about themselves. As many of his clients are people who haven’t done headshots before, he had to really work hard to achieve a great output. However, he considers it a wonderful process to see a person transform from a nervous wreck into someone that’s conducive to a profile photograph. 

Over the next years, Akshay expects photography and videography to take more part in marketing as more people are now realising these mediums’ power. 

However, one of the things that people need to remember about India is that it’s a price-conscious market. Price, in general, rules over quality. Many companies make the mistake of allocating tight budgets for photography or videography. But as companies begin to understand the value of these services, this trend is now being changed. 

For instance, when a client reached out to Akshay for his service and found out that they don’t have enough budget, he shared that the client returned after about four months; they realised that not paying for his service won’t get them anywhere. It’s proof of how companies in India are now valuing photographers and videographers more professionally.

You can reach out to Akshay at akshay@akshayjamwal.com and browse through his portfolio at www.akshayjamwal.com. And if you’re going to get a photograph, tap a professional to do it and spend money for it because it will be helpful for your brand. 

This article is based on a transcript from my Podcast The UnNoticed, you can listen here.

 

Cover photo from Akshay Jamwal’s website 

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