Taking The Leap: 3 Critical Lessons For A Career In Photography

[Header Image] Karaminder Ghuman by Daniel Schaefer
Photo: Daniel Schaefer
Everyone at some point hopes to work in a field they are passionate about. But how? How does one make that leap of faith and dive headfirst into their passion? I recently sat down with Karaminder Ghuman to ask him about his own journey. Karaminder is a Leica Akademie Instructor, Resource Magazine Writer, an Associate of Peter Hurley’s Headshot Crew, and an acclaimed Portrait & Headshot Photographer in his own right. But what if I told you that his journey into a photography career began only four years ago? Karaminder’s story actually begins much earlier as he was in pursuit of another passion, one which revolved around his family’s business.

While growing up, Karaminder was persuaded by an early interest in design and technology to take the storefront of his family’s small wine shop online. The success of that initiative granted Karaminder a rare opportunity to sell the shop and create something he had only dreamed of, opening his very own wine pairing restaurant. The next three years were spent relentlessly designing this business. Mera Vino Wine Boutique & Lounge had its grand opening in July of 2008.

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But fate had other plans. Amidst the economic downturn sweeping the country, Mera Vino prematurely closed its doors a little over a year later. However, Karaminder’s misfortune did not stop there. He received a concussion from a traffic accident that slowed down much of his activities for the next six months.

It was during Karaminder’s recovery that photography became an invaluable form of therapy. A member of the Sikh faith, he began photographing events in this community for practice. As he became a familiar face, people began to request that he take their photo. He soon realized how difficult it was to direct his subjects to pose or express themselves authentically. Karaminder’s first instinct was to seek out guidance through online education. During a daily digest of a photography blog, he caught a promotional video for a class that sought to teach him exactly what he was looking for. The class in question? An in-person intensive workshop on Headshot Photography with Peter Hurley.

Behind the Seens
Photo: Ben De Jesus

Not only did attending the workshop provide Karaminder with the tools he needed to communicate with his subjects, it connected him to a group of like-minded people that would become lifelong friends. Shortly after attending the workshop, he was booked to photograph members of a Sikh conference in New York. During this trip, he reconnected with his instructor.

Karaminder Ghuman: I remember calling Peter to see if he would be available for lunch and he asked me when I was planning on flying back home”. When I told him, he said “Change your flight. You’re helping me teach my Intensive workshop this weekend.”

Headshot 1
Photo: Karaminder Ghuman

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For Karaminder, it was a moment as rare as they come, and he knew the answer was an instant “yes”. It was also a moment that reinforced Peter’s role as a mentor. During the same weekend, with the second-round of intensive training behind them, they got together to record their first youtube video, It’s All About the Jaw. Unbeknownst to them, it would become a viral sensation.

KG: “I didn’t realize it at the time because I just wanted to shoot people better…but Peter handed me a business opportunity”

[Portrait 1] KSG-20151128-Raj Academy-285a
Photo: Karaminder Ghuman

The entrepreneurial spirit of small business never left Karaminder, instead he has shown that a perseverance towards what you’re passionate for will help any creative along their path. Looking back, he disclosed to me the three things that he found to be most important to him as he was going through his journey of becoming a photographer:

1. Be Unapologetically You

KG: “Photography, like any creative medium, is an amplifier of who you are. However, remember to always be a polite and well-mannered version of yourself…I’ve found that -specifically with Portrait Photography- the subject becomes a mirror of the photographer. The same subject will look different depending on who is taking the photo. Therefore who you are as a photographer will be reflected in the portrait of the subject…Everything from my hairstyle to the choice of camera that I use is a reflection of myself and ultimately becomes a part of my brand. Trust your intuition and don’t be afraid to stand out from the crowd.”

2. Have a Thirst for the Unknown

KG:  “Adventure is all in perspective. It’s in those moments when you put yourself out there that you can find the opportunities that you’re looking for…Dig out the interesting tidbits in the variables of the everyday. For example, people might say, “Well, you’ve been shooting headshots, isn’t that boring because it’s the same thing over and over again” and I would say, “No, because I get to interact with a different human being every time.’ ”

3. Maintain Your Network

KG:  “When you meet people, be curious about them. Everyone has a story…When I think of how I want to treat others, I imagine both of us being stuck in a hole. Individually, we won’t be able to get out, but collectively we can help each other. One of my friends, David J. Crewe, said something to me that I always find myself coming back to, “one should help as many people as possible on the way up.”…One last piece of advice; I find that there’s two rules to working in the creative arts. The first is that no one will hire you to do something you haven’t done already. The second is that the best way to learn is by doing, and the best way to start is to assist someone who’s already doing.”

[Portrait 2] KSG-20151102-L1000817
Photo: Karaminder Ghuman
Karaminder still holds himself to that advice whether it’s learning from other artists through collaborative efforts or tuning into online education. The knowledge is out there, you just have to trust that your perseverance in learning your passion will guide you.

If you would like to see Karaminder’s work, check out his portfolio here at www.karaminderghuman.com.

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Deep Singh