Amar Ramesh on How He Published his Two Coffee Table Books
Here’s the transcript of the podcast:
Kiruba: Hello and welcome to the first book podcast – India’s first podcast especially for those who have dreams and aspirations to become an author. My name is Kiruba Shankar and every week, I speak with experienced and bestselling authors to understand their writing habits, best practices, and tips to help you successfully author your first book. This podcast is supported by Notion PRess, India’s largest publishing platform. Their goal aligns perfectly with that of this podcast, which is to help you become a published author. They are now the go-to resource for getting any book related services, which includes editing, formatting, cover designing, publishing, distribution, and promotional services. After spending a decade in the United States, having finished his masters in electronics and subsequently jobs in IT firms, Amar Ramesh took the bold decision of coming back to India. Even while he was working in the US, he was passionate about photography and decided to jump into it full-time. He started his own firm called Studio A, where he focussed on candid wedding photography. Many soon, he became one of India’s well respected and well known photographers. In addition to wedding photography, he branched into short-film making under the banner of Big Short Films, started a new division for kids photography and started a venture to capture the beauty of age-old temples that are forgotten but very interesting. Amar is an eternal learner. He came to my farm to attend the 2-day offsite book authoring workshop. It is great to know that he has followed up on that dream of publishing a book and has since published two beautiful coffee table books. The first is a compilation of his best wedding photos titled You are Cordially Invited and the second book is titled Stones and Stories, where he captures the beauty of the 1330-year-old Kailasanathar temple in Kanchipuram. In this podcast, Amar explains how he turned his dream of becoming an author and has lots of advice for you. Let’s jump in straight into the conversation with Amar Ramesh.
Kiruba: Amar, it is wonderful to have you on the first book podcast.
Amar: Thank you, thank you, Kiruba. It is an amazing opportunity for me to be here and glad that we are doing this podcast.
Kiruba: And it is an amazing opportunity because there is a new book that is coming out of your stable called Stones and Stories.
Amar: Yeah, super excited about it. It all started 3 or 4 years ago and then I can’t believe I am coming out with this book that is going to be out on Amazon and other stores, where people can go and purchase. I am so excited about it.
Kiruba: Yeah, for the listeners, this is something very fascinating. Like Amar Ramesh, how I introduced is actually a professional photographer. He focuses on candid wedding photography and he has got many avatars and is really on discale in photography. In addition to what he is doing professionally, he is very passionate about capturing the architecture and the archaeology of India. Right, Amar? Do you want to tell a little about this passion?
Amar: I do a lot other things through my photography. Obviously, my main bread and butter is weddings. Apart from weddings, I also do social documentary in the name of Big Short Films and I also another thing I am very passionate about is temples. I always feel the temples in India have not got the right exposure that they deserve. They are amazing; they have historic significance and we feel we’ve not portrayed it the way it should be portrayed. So, I want to take beautiful pictures of our temples; I really wanted to do that for a long time that I have some time, energy to spend on that project. I’ve started this project where I”m taking one temple at a time, doing an extensive photography series on it and then coming up with a book. This is my first temple; It’s Kailasanathar temple in Kanchipuram. I started with a book idea. It’s amazing, Kiruba. I actually started with a book idea but even before the book idea came into take its form, I’ve already done solo exhibition on that temple.
Kiruba: And it’s a beautiful exhibition; I’ve visited the exhibition and it’s a beautiful how this idea really translates into a reality as part of this exhibition, as part of this book, as part of other people coming forward to help you realize this dream. This is fantastic.
Amar: It all started with the idea of coming up with a book. So, when I visited this temple, the first time, I immediately wanted to come out with a book and I just researched if there is any other book on that temple. I found that there’s hardly any in the last 20, 30 years. And also specifically a coffee table book, which is concentrating more on the pictures. So, as a photographer, that was a very good thing for me. I thought okay, let me come out with a book. Also, this temple deserves to have a nice book with a lot of nice pictures. That’s when this idea came up. And then this idea transformed into something bigger and became an exhibition. I could not finish the book before the exhibition but the exhibition was a grand success. It was very nice. And this month, we are coming up with the book.
Kiruba: Brilliant! And I like how you’ve played to your strenght. Your strength is in photography and presenting things visually and coffee table book clearly extends itself to this medium.
Amar: I was very, very sure about it. See again, my strength is photography and my goal is also to show the temple in a very nice way to people around, not only in India, but other countries also. See I’m not a historian, I’m not into the history and the religious aspects of the temple. For me, it is purely a beautiful structure, a beautiful monument is there and I want to show it beautifully in a series of pictures. So, that’s my goal and that is what this book is going to be all about.
Kiruba: Stones and Stories is actually your second book. You actually did your first book, which is a wedding book and it has a very interesting title. You want to tell that title, Amar?
Amar: Before the title, I want to thank you because the whole idea or the confidence of coming out with a book was because of the book authoring retreat you had in your farm. That was a wonderful two-day experience. It was a life changing experience for me, wherein I moved from a very insecure author, insecure guy who was think will I be able to release a book to a person who was thinking book releasing is nothing huge or nothing big like what we think from outside is relatively easy. Thanks to you. The title of the book is You are Cordially Invited. It’s a collection of the best pictures from my wedding photography work.
Kiruba: I also have to give a lot of credit to Amar because Amar is one of those very few people, who I’ve noticed that he plans and a lot of us plan but very few of us can take that plan, follow it up, and really turn that into a reality. And Amar has done that. He has not only done that with this book but I’ve also seen him do this in many other facets in life. But the important thing is I know Amar even before, he was part of the book authoring workshop along with dozen others. And I can tell you that a lot of people who came and really had that vision of writing a book, of course not everybody completed the goal but Amar’s one of the ones who really made sure to follow up on that goal and he’s published it. Now he’s got two coffee table books to his credit. Now very quickly Amar, just even rewinding back, why did you even decide to come up with a coffee table book?
Amar: We are in an era, which is slowly moving away from tangible books, tangible books to something digital like something in the phone, something in the tablet, something in the computer; all our pictures are in computer, all our pictures are in phone, when we change the phone, all the pictures are gone; they’re somewhere saved in laptops and we don’t have anything to show people, right? And slowly we are moving away from this nice book…see, how many times you’ve been in an old, heritage home rental or heritage vacation homes, where you see a coffee table book with nice pictures? The feel you have when you see your pictures printed on paper, right, it’s very different! It also becomes a tangible thing that is permanent, right? I always want to see my pictures in a printed form, like any other photographer; as a coffee table book, it’s amazing. And also, for me, especially in this temple project, I want to inspire people to go visit this temple at least once. How can I do it? Yes, one way is exhibition and what is the other way? Like exhibition I could pull a thousand people. What is the other way that I can pull thousand more people? To print thousand books, right? Like if I say someone and give the book, sell the book, people who are going to see this book would want to at least go visit this temple at least once and that is my goal because there is this temple, there is this monument, it is amazing. It’s done by somebody centuries and centuries ago and it’s standing there; very few people know about it. My goal is, through the coffee table book, I want to let a lot more people know about it. That’s why I want to come out with more coffee table books. I am not going to stop here and I actually planned Stones and Stories to be a series of books, at least one book per year; one temple per year.
Kiruba: Awesome! Brilliant! Has your book projects – the two coffee table books – have they helped you in establishing yourself as a photographer? You are obviously very well known but have these books really added on to your aura?
Amar: Definitely! Anything that we do apart from what we do, you know like, in a regular basis, any other new projects that we do definitely add to our aura like you say. You know adds to our credibility, adds to our fame, lot more people…see there’s audience right? Like wedding photography, not everybody is an audience for wedding photography. There’s a group of people, right? And then there is another group of people who loves Instagram pictures. So, I do mobile photography. There is another group of people who love temple and architecture and heritage, right? And I could attract that people through project. It has definitely helped me move away from the picture of just a wedding photographer to a wholesome photographer, right? But it’s definitely there and also, more than that I feel it’s the personal happiness that I get out of doing all these, which is not about the aura, it is not about becoming famous. It’s a personal happiness. See for some reason, I think I’ve been given this talent and I’m using this talent to solve a purpose. What is the purpose? To let people know that there is an amazing monument out there and they’ve to go see it. Right? So, that is my purpose. I am using my coffee table book to fulfill the purpose in my life.
Kiruba: Correct. And now Amar, do you also want to give us some of the tips or techniques that you followed in following up with your dream of authoring a book and then actually holding the book in your hands, a printed book? Are there any tips that you followed that you think that these tips would be helpful for those listening to this podcast?
Amar: So, definitely there are some tips that I got from the retreat that I had with you like the book authoring retreat. The first and the foremost tip that I had from your retreat was your first book is going to be your crap, just go one wait and do it. If you keep on waiting for that perfect book, you are going to just delay the process, right? Instead, I am going to follow the process of…for me to wait for a perfect book for 5 or 6 years, I would rather come with ten books in the five years and my 11th book will be a perfect book. That is what I got out of the two days that I spent there. The next thing is take a very narrow subject, like a niche subject, right? Like just dont take a huge subject that is going to take a very long time, take a lot of research. Take a very niche thing and more than everything take something that will make you really happy, that you are really passionate about. Don’t take it because this is going to sell, because this is what is going to make you popular. Take it because you love to do it. That will keep on going and that will keep you continuously doing it . So, that is very important. These are the tips and then the last thing is remove the fear, like publishing a book is nothing. If I can do it, everyone can do it.
Kiruba: True. Very well said, Amar! You’ve also successfully gotten into raising funds for helping publish your second coffee table book – Stones and Stories. I know that you are still in the process; raised a fair amount of money. So, do you want to give tips to our audience on how did you go about doing that?
Amar: In my case, I have already developed the credibility in terms of leaving my job, following my passion, pursuing it as a profession and doing it really well and successfully, right? I have organically developed a following for my work and for myself online and also when you’re passionate about something, right, things come into place really, really well. That is why I said take a subject that you are really passionate about. So, this is like, I didn’t expect people to come on me and all but I just did because I was passionate about it. When you are passionate about it and when you are doing it, many things will, you know like, come into place. And also the following that I had developed last five years, really, really helped. People know what I do, people have been following my work and people know what kind of work I do. So, it became a little easier for me. Actually I wanted to go the Kickstarter way but I want to wait for a bigger project to do the Kickstarter thing. So, this I just contacted like minded people and I told them my reason for coming out with the book and then they believed in the reason and they came forward.
Kiruba: Brilliant. Awesome, Amar. And it’s also wonderful to see that you have more number of book projects lined up and that’s a great indication. And Amar, I really want to thank you on behalf of all the people listening to this podcast. Not only are you an inspiration by letting all of follow our own passions but you also really showed us that authoring a book that if you can do it, anyone can do it and I loved that spirit. Thank you so much, Amar.
Amar: Thank you so much, Kiruba. Thanks for the wonderful opportunity and thanks to the listeners. If you are listening to this, and if you are wondering where to go get this book, it’l be available by the first week of June on Amazon.in. If not, you can also go to stonesandstories.in, where you’ll have a link to buy the book.
Kiruba: On that note, where else can people follow you online?
Amar: Facebook – Amar Ramesh or my company name is Studio A. I am also on Instagram as Amar Ramesh and Twitter as Amar Ramesh. You can Google me and find all this information.
Kiruba: That’s right. And there’s always the website amarramesh.com. So, thanks once again, Amar and all the very best.
Amar: Thank you so much Kiruba.
You were listening to the first book podcast, which is India’s first podcast specially aimed at first time authors. Do tune in every week to notionpress.com/podcast to follow new conversation with bestselling authors to hear their tips, tricks, and techniques to become a published author. On that note, a word of appreciation to Notion Press for supporting this show. I would love to hear your feedback and encourage you to write to me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Until next week, take care and bye!