Photographer at Large: Rammy Narula
Rammy and I met a few years ago in Bangkok. At the time, he was going through a rough patch personally. Photography was more than a creative outlet, it was his release from life. What struck me about Rammy was his willingness to work and his self reflection. Many photographers are content making a bunch of snaps without really examining why they take pictures. Not Rammy. After a year of taking images, his pictures were selected by National Geographic and he was already making a name for himself within the Thai photography community. But he wanted to broaden his skill set and find a deeper meaning in his work. This introspection is admirable. Socrates would have respected Rammy for his willingness to live an examined life. It was for this reason that Rammy was invited to be a contributing writer for the site because I believe that everyone has the ability to find their creative voice.
by RAMMY NARULA
When I was invited by Adam Marelli to write about my experiences on life and with photography, I felt humbled. It was a chance to reflect on how far I’ve come with photography; discussing how it’s helped me to evolve and be able to share the experience of what I have learned gave me a great thrill. I got down to writing my thoughts out and couldn’t wait to put them together in what has become this short blog. The first of many on the subject, I hope.
Let me start by saying I recently went a few months without taking any pictures. It probably sounds like the total opposite of what you would expect to hear from a photographer, but I believe the lack of balance in my life, born out of my obsession with photography, was at the root of this development. Read on and hopefully you will understand why.
When my life and mental health were at their lowest, it was my brother who suggested that perhaps photography could be the healing mechanism I needed to take me away from my troubles and find a better balance. My brother, a camera fanatic among other things, handed me a camera. It could not have worked out better. I transformed from a guy with no passion and no focus into one obsessed with developing a new found talent. I would spend hours a day on the street and wanted to travel and explore other cities. I made a list of places I wanted to visit to take photos and created travel plans that covered spans of 6-12 months at a time. Whenever I could travel, I did. I would pack two cameras, a lot of batteries, chargers, SD cards, and sometimes a tripod. My camera became a part of me, almost a third eye, if you will.
It also helped me make an impression on a woman I was dating at the time. She was very much into photography, and the fact that she thought she was a better photographer gave me even more motivation. I’m happy to report that she’s now my wife and I owe much of it to my interest in photography. Life felt different in a good way and all the little elements started falling into place. I had my first small exhibition last year and followed that up with a bigger event in which I sold prints – a personal milestone and a proud moment.
On the back of those accomplishments, I planned and thought about what else I could do to build on this platform. I wanted to do more as quickly as I could.
Things were looking pretty good until one day a sensation hit me like a brick. The feeling that I had become too preoccupied with photography. You see, all of the above happened in such a short span of time that my health, family relationships, work, almost all of the things that ironically drove me into photography in the first place, began to suffer because I was not giving them enough time.
I caught myself one day in early September thinking, “Hey! This wasn’t why I started taking pictures!” I wanted it to lead me out of a hole, not right into another one where my obsession could take over.
At that moment my passion for photography felt like it had come full circle. Like hitting a low right after hitting a high. I lost some of my thirst to take pictures, stopped traveling, and shifted my concentration back to the things I felt were being affected while thinking hard about how I would like to come out on the other side. I wanted to reshape my life once more, set some new goals, and bring photography back when there would better stability all around – something I had envisioned I would do when I began on this journey, but then seemingly went off the rails. Before I knew it, a few months had lapsed and my camera was collecting dust.
Lucky for me that break didn’t last too long, and a few weeks ago I finally picked up my camera again. I felt more relaxed. I believe the time off had allowed me to reflect and develop a renewed sense of determination to be involved with photography in such a way that everything else that is important to me can grow with it.
I can’t say I have the perfect formula so I won’t expand on the details of how I plan to make this sustainable, but I will say that I think life is ultimately about finding a balance that gives you peace of mind. When something starts to hurt, you have to recognize that a change may be needed.
Admittedly, there is still a strong ambition to achieve tangible results by producing more complete bodies of work, and I will have to tread carefully to avoid the same trap, but I’d like to think it will all be worth it. I’ve begun working on plans for the next year, keeping the overall lifestyle balance I now demand of myself in focus, building up confidence that I am now walking on more stable ground.
Here’s to hoping this is not the last time I am asked to write about life and photography, because I will surely have more to say on this subject and how it works out for me over time; giving me an additional channel with which to express myself and share my experiences along with my photographs.