In this series, TalentEgg will be exploring the lives of young professionals who have gone off the beaten career path to find success. From artists to entrepreneurs, their stories illustrate the importance of pursuing your passion.
“You have one life. Live as much as you can.” – Zahra Siddiqui
In only 5 years, Zahra Siddiqui has changed careers, built an incredible photography portfolio, and had her work published and exhibited in a variety of noteworthy spaces. Clearly, she practices what she preaches.
Originally a child and youth worker, Zahra decided to become a photographer five years ago.
“It really was just for fun, that’s how I started,” explains Zahra. “It was kind of like an outlet for me to express myself.”
She would go around and take pictures of the artists in her community, building her portfolio, and teaching herself through YouTube tutorials. After about a year, people started contacting her frequently for her services and she realized her photography could be more than just a hobby. So she connected with other photographers to learn how to turn her pastime into a full-time career. With a lot of hard work and guidance from her peers, she was able to achieve her goal.
Her approach to photography is simple: to capture “somebody in their purest form,” or, as a friend once described her work, “those moments in between blinks.”
“What inspires me is being mindful,” says Zahra. “And my way of capturing mindfulness is capturing the people around me and the things about them that might go unnoticed.”
While she is fortunate enough to do what she loves for a living, the road to success hasn’t always been easy. Photography can be a competitive industry and Zahra has dealt with her fair share of self-doubt.
“I still have hesitations, but I thrive off of being challenged,” says Zahra. “And I always say to myself, ‘the only person I want to conquer is my former self.’”
She also had to redefine her definition of success to align with her new career path, focusing less on material gains and more on her own happiness and fulfillment.
“Having the best equipment, the best education, the best training, it doesn’t mean anything,” says Zahra. “It’s your desire. If the desire’s there, you will make it, you will succeed.”
And she is living proof that hard work pays off. In May 2015, she was selected to participate in the 10×10 photography project, where she produced 10 portraits that were published in the project’s annual publication. Chosen at the last minute, Zahra shot, developed, and submitted all of her pictures for the project in just 8 days.
“It was a hustle but I was proud to be a part of a group of people like this and to have my work published,” says Zahra. “It was a really big moment for me.”
So how do you follow up a career milestone like that? Zahra plans to continue pursuing her photography in New York City. And while the location may be different, her core career values remain the same: work hard, try new things, and be open to every opportunity that comes her way.
Zahra’s career advice
- Take your time. Pursuing a creative career can be a challenging process, so there’s no need to rush in. “Start small, see how it feels for you, and then start reaching out to a community,” says Zahra,
- Never forget why you started. Zahra became a photographer because it made her happy. When you stop feeling the way you felt in the beginning, it might be time to reassess your current situation.
“If you stick to your path and dreams, whatever is meant to happen to you will happen right on time.” – Zahra Siddiqui