Kshitij Sheetak on how to grow with a mentor

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Affectionately and colloquially known as the Shoot Guru, Kshitij Sheetak is a man who worships the tool of the trade. Having been a key cog of the industry for a decade and having won the Dadasaheb Phalke award, when he speaks with his magnetic charisma, you listen. 

Views On Education: 

Kshitij is a staunch supporter of hands-on training. The 3 year old and growing Shoot Guru community is a platform for budding photographers to learn under his tutelage, and moreover, get invaluable work experience. On his 14 shoots pan India, he has been accompanied by 4 prodigious talents who are part of his community. His belief in experience as a teacher extends as far as handing out tips and tricks for free to photographers on the quest for knowledge and to learn. Hiring from the community holds mutual benefit. Young, talented photography enthusiasts get hands on experience, and the enthusiasm is infectious. They bring the zest that is much required to drive productivity. He states that mentors play a huge part in the growth and maturity of one’s career, across all professional genres.

Career Building Process:

If there was one word that could describe Kshitij, it would be enthusiasm. After finishing his MA in marketing, he pursued his passion for cinematography out of sheer drive, and a psychological spark for learning. He worked as a light and production assistant at TLC, interned with Highway On My Plate, all whilst possessing no gear. Such was his eagerness and willingness to learn the trade. He states that portfolio is what matters the most, and your body of work is a tangible variable that cannot be compromised, and one must devote time and effort in order to nourish it, as that will be your primary source of income.

Inspirations

(A photograph captured by Peter McKinnon) 

As someone who consumes 12 hours of content daily, Kshitij loves to draw inspiration and influence from all sources possible. His past work has held association with travel, and he cites London based cinematographer Philip Bloom as a major influence, who is renowned for his corporate films and documentaries. He is also an ardent follower of the works of Peter McKinnon and Casey Neistat. He is an incorrigible technology nerd who is inspired through each and every element and deconstructs every nuance of the content he consumes, from the shot angle of a scene to the camera used.

Importance Of Being A Team Player:

All you need to do is ask! Social skills, and the ability to talk to people, work with people and build relations and contacts is essential in order to supplement the work portfolio you have under your belt. Kshitij finds that there is a dearth of people who are confident enough to approach people for work or for advice. The worst that can happen is that you will get no for an answer. He is someone who advocates practicing projecting confidence, and always rewards people who approach him with his advice. He believes that a politely put enquiry will never go unanswered. He makes it a point to reply to all his DMs, focuses on engaging

content and relies on his team for brain power and rectification of his errors in thought. Being social is the key to unlocking your career.

Cinematographic Views:

(A photograph captured by Kshitij Sheetak) 

A technology enthusiast, he is perennially on the lookout for the latest technology in order to maintain his work at its usual state-of-the-art standards. His view is that technology is a boon, and it must be used such that it boosts your growth and technique instead of hindering it. He loves to imagine and reimagine different angles and lighting for shots, hence when he settles on one permutation, it is usually perfect. Portability of gear is a non negotiable for any cinematographer or photographer. He believes that cinematography exists to ride the train of thought of the writer or the director, and must be engineered according to what fits the scenario best. 

A resourceful person who excels in making lemonade when life gives you lemons, Kshitij wasn’t perturbed at all by the Covid-19 pandemic. He took it under his stride, mentioning as a matter of fact that the idea is to overcome restrictions. The potential for possibilities in a cinematographic context in the lockdown were endless for him, namely flatlays, short films, time lapses, music videos. We have come to expect this degree of proficiency and quality from Kshitij, who continues to inspire and guide with his experience and the wisdom of a decade, and more now, in the industry.

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