Sonal Sukheeja - Capturing the special among the ordinary.

When opportunity knocks, open the door and embrace the opportunity that has come forth.
Sonal Sukheeja
The best explanation to this would be the story of Sonal Sukheeja, a professional photographer. It is quite interesting on how she grabbed the opportunity of turning into a professional photographer, expanding her horizons.

Being a certified Chartered Accountant, how did photography come up as a profession?

After getting married, Sonal shifted to Atlanta,USA along with her husband. Her routine was the usual one like any other girl, doing the household chores and spending the rest of her time at home. But the twist comes here, her husband owned a DSLR, and gave it to Sonal to explore it in her free time. She joined a local photography meet up group, where she met a lot of enthusiastic photographers. While she interacted and learned along with people elder to her, it motivated her to utilise the free time she had. Though she had convinced herself that she would learn photography until she gets back to practice CA profession again.
A Mundane Affair, Flux Project.

"I travel a lot during a year, which allows me to explore vast landscapes and nature's beauty of US west through my photography along with exploring local culture and people of this south city of US."
Water flowing from Excelsior Geyser now an active thermal spring into
the Firehole River at Yellowstone National Park, WY.
Downtown, Atlanta.
The path of self-learning:

"I taught myself techniques of digital photography through online materials, books and most importantly practice." Says Sonal, who had enrolled in an annual mentorship programme of a local photography meetup as a mentee to further her self learning. Working closely with her mentor she developed new skills and also gained an understanding of other people's perspective in developing and working on an idea. 
Captured : Dramatic Clouds at North Head Lighthouse
"Since the best way to learn something is by teaching it, I followed my mentor's lead to enroll as a mentor in the same programme next year. With a thought that despite a late start I can achieve what I want through hard work and guidance." 

Captured: Falling trees at a trail near Seattle, US

The accidental luck :

As Sonal describes it, her first wedding photography offer was a sheer "accidental luck". A stranger to her, of an Indonesian descent approached her, while strolling in a local park. He had offered to recruit her as his assistant (second shooter) for a Turkish wedding. It left her perplexed and excited at the same time. Being an initial offer for being a photographer officially, she thought about it and was sure to decline the same. But here came second thoughts; " I was sure to reply him with a no, but on the other hand, this job seemed like an opportunity to experience a wedding from a new perspective while getting paid. I said yes, hesitatingly. And so within 2 months of picking a camera, I shot my first wedding as a second shooter in the year 2013."
From one of her initial projects.

She experienced the joy of feeling accomplished, after the first shoot and kept rewinding the events of the same later.
Gradually, Sonal had her first independent assignment as a wedding photographer in the USA. "Shooting Kate and Gabriel's wedding day events was overwhelming for me as a single photographer."

A joyous moment captured from Kate and Gabriel's wedding.
Within a year she shot a few more weddings, one of which was a mixed culture wedding of an Indian groom and an American bride. It reminded her of India's diverse culture and decided to explore the same, particularly wedding, through a fresh new perspective during her upcoming trip to India. "I was keen on focusing on vivid colours, rhythms of life and intricate interactions between people. So decided on taking up 'candid wedding photography in India".

A moment captured during Sujata's wedding.
Hence, she flew down all the way to India to shoot two of her best friend's wedding Sujata and Chhavi.
 "Confident that I can be a professional photographer in India, I started marketing my self on social media platforms for more assignments." Hence, in those two and a half months she worked with five beautiful couples and their families for their pre-wedding and candid wedding photography.

What is that one thing about photography that you really love?

"I might not consciously realize, but I do have a unique way of looking at the world around me. My photography is a means to show it to others and also remind myself. I aspire to tell a story through my pictures."
An upper view of Snoqualmie Falls

Doesn't it highlight the zeal and enthusiasm embedded in her heart towards her profession?
Mules ascending up on South Kaibab Trail with loads on their
back, Grand Canyon, AZ

Plans ahead:

After taking up lifestyle photography, now she aspires to use photography as an expressive medium to communicate her perspective on the social mechanics of the culture she has adopted by birth (Indian) or by circumstances (American). 
During the workshop in Jaipur.
"I wish to work on social issues in India like gender inequality, child labour and issues surrounding basic rights of women and other marginalized populations for example transgenders. I have already started experimenting with street photography for depiction of social issues through the lens of my unique perspective and have started some projects which are still under progress." , says Sonal, who also wishes to open a studio space or an institute of photography for children and adults. Her first step towards this goal was taken during December 2015 in Jaipur, where she had conducted a three day workshop for kids.

To know more about her work, visit her at :
Facebook Page

A moment captured when the bride was getting ready.
For embracing the opportunity she had and capturing the moment explicitly, it is definitely a WOW! to Sonal.

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About Pallavi Behani


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