Working with the Rajasthan Royals
Hailing from Jaipur, it was the most obvious choice to root for Rajasthan Royals when the IPL was first announced in 2008. My loyalty to the team has stayed intact through all the seasons till date. I can only describe the fact that I was the official team photographer as a privilege, mixing my profession with a sports team that I have admired for over a decade is a dream come true!
My tryst with the team as an outsider started way back in 2008 as I was crazy about the team then led by the great Shane Warne. They were the underdogs, the team that would do well but did not have a chance to make it to the official records. Jaipur was decided as the home turf and I wanted to be part of this historic moment. I had made notes, paper cuttings and forced my father to get me tickets for the matches at the Sawai Mansingh Stadium. I got the opportunity to be a ball picker at the stadium, so much was the fanfare for the team that I fulfilled that role with pride. My favourite players from the initial team were Shane Watson and Swapnil Asnodkar. Waiting outside the hotel before the match started was a ritual followed by me and many other countless fans.
My loyalty for the Royals stayed intact even after I shifted to Mumbai in 2013. I am a proud supporter of Royals amongst the home team crowd at Wankhede. It broke my heart when they were served the ban, but was hopeful once again for their return in 2018. Things happen when they are meant to happen, and my initiation to work with Rajasthan Royals happened just like that! I once bumped into Rohit Sareen, who I knew from the time I did his wedding shoot in 2016. Apparently, Rohit worked with Rajasthan Royals and he happened to mention my affinity towards the teams Instagram page and didn’t forget to mention how active I was in liking their picture. He definitely put light on what a super fan I am! It didn’t click at first, but always be assertive, I was very vocal about my inclination to work with the Royals and he promptly arranged an official meeting. Within a week, I was sitting across him at their office and even though it didn’t work out that year, it was a great step forward. This conversation started again when I did the wedding shoot for Nitin Uppot, who had recently joined the Rajasthan Royals. It was the second chance I had got and I took my shot once again, resulting in another meeting at their office. Things snowballed quicker this time with two people from the Royals liking my work I got the opportunity to shoot the Pre-Season Camp at the CCI in Mumbai. Thus, began my official association with the Rajasthan Royals.
My first day at Camp was exciting and quite a fanfare. I shot the player’s profiles and covered the practice session that encompassed the entire camp for me.
I was awestruck when I met the man behind the 2008 victory – Shane Warne! I couldn’t have been more satisfied to take pictures and video bytes of the person who made my cricket experience this memorable.
My picture with him is definitely one of the takeaway moments for me during the season, and that is a choice I make out of the innumerable amazing moments I have had all season with the team. They loved the pictures I took during the camp and I was to leave for Jaipur within the next four days to be a part of the entire season. It was a personal victory, a moment of complete jubilation as I get to spend that much time with my parents plus work with the sports team of my choice.
It is not every day that a picture you take is splashed across national and international publications alike. I am proud to say that the iconic picture of Steve Smith’s return to cricket after his ban coming out of the Jaipur airport in the red Rajasthani turban was clicked by me. Following the Rajasthan Royals through the season also got me pictures of Jos Butler, Ben Stokes, Jofra Archer, the key international players of the season. They played such a pivotal role in some of the better matches that the Rajasthan Royals played at the IPL.
My birthday coincided with the team’s welcome dinner and hands down the most fun birthday I have had. It was surreal, the whole team joined in to celebrate with me and we popped champagne and had a great time. It’s true if anyone told you that the team treats everyone like family, it’s the culture for Rajasthan Royals. I ended up becoming great friends with Krishnapa Gowtham, Stuart Binny and Ryan Parag and still am in touch with them to this day. I got the official Rajasthan Royals jersey and the management accreditation from BCCI the next day. It is extremely fulfilling to see all the pictures I had clicked of the players in and around the stadium, actually all around the city of Jaipur as well.
My work with the team entailed clicking pictures for the local media, Rajasthan Royal’s social media and pictures for the purposes of marketing, branding and sponsorship. I clicked an overwhelming 22000 pictures during the season and worked closely with the media manager, Astha Thapliyal. She’s the one that would brief me on an everyday basis and get opportunities for the video team and me. I was working on two Canon 5D Mark IV bodies with 70-200 & 2x extender, 50 1.2 and 24-70mm lenses. I was not allowed to shoot anything on the field during the match. Instead, I was shooting fan reactions and stories during the match. It’s exhilarating to travel with the team, it has its own perks, the experience is extraordinary, cruising through security, police convoys, staying at brilliant properties and most of all to experience cricket at all the major cricket stadiums of the country.
P.S. We got the contract this year too, cannot wait for the rollercoaster ride again.