Indie entrepreneur is a different breed. Much different than the Venture Capital funded tech entrepreneur who is loaded with dollops of cash, insanely hungry to scale up his business and make it a killer profit making machine. In my previous blog article The New Age of Creation in the Indie Economy I have talked about the salient characteristics of the indie entrepreneur. When I began my photography project, ‘One Life, One Passion’ a year ago, my sole aim was to create visual stories of individuals who are highly passionate about something and who live their life around their passion. Very soon it became evident to me that these people also represented an upcoming class of indie entrepreneurs who provided a refreshing spin to words like enterprise, profit and way of doing business.
Telling a visual story of a passionate indie entrepreneur goes beyond clicking a few pictures of him and what he does. There are 6 principle dimensions to the entrepreneurial journey that I try to capture in my creative process:
The protagonist of each of my stories is the person himself. An important element of his personality apart from the physicality and passion is the personal journey that brought him to do what he is doing. It is here that a written narrative offers an engaging proposition to the viewer. The role of a protagonist is always the raison d’être of the story.
Samir Karnik, a guitarist and the luthier
Darshan Lodaya- Electronic music producer and a soulful singer
Stories with a strong social dimension invariably involve people. They are key stakeholders in the success of the entrepreneurial story and hence an important visual element. These people are generally contributors or chief beneficiaries of the protagonist’s enterprise. My endeavour is to capture their appearance and demeanour. Stories about creative entrepreneurs like musicians and artists are generally solo tales that do not involve people.
Dalbir Singh runs a leather workshop in Dharavi and is supplier to Megha Gupta’s Dharavimarket.com
Nagraj Singhadiais the chief cobbler for Paaduks eco-friendly footwear
This is one of the most interesting visual elements of the story. Be it photographing the making of handcrafted products or composing music in the studio or crafting a guitar in a workshop, the process aspect of the story is like the salt in a delicacy. Not so glamorous yet adds subtly to the taste. Process also involves the various tools and instruments of the trade. In most stories the process is a significant differentiator of the entrepreneurial story- sustainable way of making, innovative production techniques or high level of customization.
Paaduks shoes being made
A guitar being carefully hand made by Samir Karnik of Enzo Guitars
All stories have a physical context or an operational environment where things are made or created by a segment of people or by the entrepreneurs. Social entrepreneurial stories more often than not have an overwhelming visual sense of place which is characterized by the socio-economic backdrop of the people. For creative entrepreneurs it’s the distinctive place where they create their art or hand make products.
Patchwork products being made in the slums of Bharatnagar by Arushi Aggarwal’s TheInitiative
Darshan Lodaya makes his electronic music under his label Bluesanova in his home studio
The product is the poster boy of a visual story. It is the tangible and perceptible manifestation of the entrepreneur’s creativity and enterprise. Products of an indie entrepreneur are generally marked by their design-centricity over technology focus, sustainability of process of creation, innovation and value produced by higher degree of utility over industrial scale.
Paaduks eco-friendly shoes
Samir Karnik’s hand crafted acoustic guitar
Power of vision
The story of a passionate indie entrepreneur is incomplete without his vision which extends beyond his personal growth and includes a larger goal of fostering a positive change in his domain and may be even the society as a whole. This stems from his ability to use his specific skills to improve the socio-economic lives of people. It is this grand vision that continuously motivates the indie entrepreneur to persist on his path and set an example for others.
Here’s what Samir Karnik- the Luthier says about his vision
“I aim at being a social entrepreneur and set up a large community based workshop in a rural place to produce eco-friendly guitars on a large scale. Such an enterprise would invite the participation of people on the fringes of the society like the drug addicts or alcoholics so that they get another shot at normal productive life”.
It suffices to say that telling a visual story of an indie entrepreneur goes beyond pictures; it’s about understanding his passion through his personality, his people and his processes, places where he materializes his passion, his unique product and his vision.
I will be happy to receive your comments.