Some students have a background, identity, interest, or talent that is so meaningful they believe their application would be incomplete without it. If this sounds like you, then please share your story.

I inched closer with silent footsteps, holding my breath… and Click! As the moment froze in my camera, the sparrows whizzed past and flew into the trees.

My tryst with photography began many years ago upon discovering the old 35mm Leica in Dad’s cupboard. I have pursued several interests in great depth – basketball, soccer, debating, writing, dancing, singing, playing the guitar, the piano, public speaking, dramatics – and I grew to enjoy quite a few, but nothing ever consumed me with as much intensity and passion as the art of photography.

Photos of people: of loved ones and even of strangers, have always been the most popular on my EyeEm profile, and most awarded too (EyeEm – a marriage between Shutterstock and LinkedIn for professional photographers). Some of the best photographs are also the most unexpected – while idly dozing on a train to Rishikesh, I was struck by the expression of a young boy in the seat ahead, staring wide-eyed at the huge expanse of the river Ganges. I pulled out my camera and photographed the innocent wonder and awe in his eyes for a sight he had never seen before, and that photograph won me my first international photography competition.

When I show people their photographs and they like them, it gives me immense joy. A close-up shot of a couple holding hands, helping each other up from the ground is my fondest example. A framed version of the picture now hangs in the bedroom of their house.

I never shied away from criticism, and it flowed rather freely, too: in jest, from my friends, and in love, from my family. I respect it and use it constructively to further improve my art. Striking up conversations with photographers on EyeEm helped me learn. That’s how my skills truly began to develop – observing their craft, learning from their successes and mistakes, and never stopping the experimentation. To date, I’ve earned over 400 dollars in exchange for my photographs, and that tiny bit of validation for my work never fails to put a smile to my face.

My lifelong fascination with design, physics and technology have integrated seamlessly with my love for photography, and even acted as a catalyst in its growth. My understanding of light apertures and lens focal lengths helps me find the ideal configuration to highlight my subject, and researching various types of sensors in my free time is an ardent hobby. Most of all, though, I can never stop fawning over the small bumps in the grip of my point-and-shoot that help me hold the camera better, and the pristine polish of the curved glass lenses inside. I have as much love for the camera itself as the photographs it captures.

Surprisingly enough, I have never owned one of those large, professional DSLRs. In most cases, my phone’s camera was powerful enough, and when it wasn’t, I had no choice but to be creative. As such, the limitations of my phone never proved to be a handicap, rather a teacher of tough lessons and valuable skills. My camera, like a trusted companion, forever stands by me, giving me an outlet to not only express what I feel, but the objectivity to process and accept it too. The camera is all about perspectives, and it has taught me that life is, too.

Though our world today has its share of challenges and uncertainty, it is increasingly connected by the constant evolution of technology-a powerful tool to create solutions. I wish to use my camera to raise money and awareness for causes I believe in – empowering the underprivileged, conserving the wild, and fighting inequality – all big words from a dreamy teenager as he looks through the lens of his camera, gazing far ahead, hoping to capture the perfect shot of his future.

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