Kumar finds passion in concert photography

Deepa Gautam, Co-Managing Editor

Kumar smiles inside the WA Library, camera in hand. (Provided by Arnav Kumar)

The beat drops and the crowd roars as the artist steps onto the stage. Lights flash and a flurry of fans sing along to the lyrics. In the midst of this vibrant concert is senior Arnav Kumar, camera in hand. With a click of his camera, the moment freezes in time, and he captures the electrifying energy of a live concert.

For Kumar, it was the summer before junior year that he began exploring this unique medium of art, taking photos of his friends and family. Now, having amassed nearly 50,000 followers on his Instagram account, @AKflix, Kumar specializes in concert photography, connecting with musical artists and sharing his stunning images with the world. However, Kumar’s journey to success didn’t start with a grand plan or a professional camera; it began as a simple fascination with his father’s camera one summer. 

“I had just found my dad’s camera, started playing around with it and that’s when I really started taking interest in photography,” Kumar said. “I learned mostly by myself, and watched a lot of videos on YouTube on all the techniques for taking shots and editing. As time progresses you figure things out, and I really had to keep working on it and practice consistently.”

It was over that summer Kumar discovered a fun way to incorporate this newfound hobby into his everyday life: taking photos at gatherings with his friends. In fact, his first ever post as “AKflix” features the 16th birthday party of senior Unnati Bhat, one of Kumar’s close friends. 

“The first time Arnav made an appearance as a photographer was at my 16th surprise birthday party in July of 2021. I had no idea what would become of this,” Bhat said. “Arnav captured the moments that I still cherish and am happy with in a way that I hadn’t seen in a way I hadn’t seen a lot of amateur photographers know how to do. We could all see that his hobby had real merit.”

As he began taking more photos, Kumar was drawn to the creative freedom that came with the editing process. Whether it be adjusting the saturation or manipulating colors, experimenting with different techniques allowed him to explore various styles of photography. In addition to being an artistic outlet, photography also proved to be a fulfilling way to connect with others as he shared his images with family and friends.

Through posting his photos of parties, football games, and even senior portraits, Kumar eventually became a sensation amongst his WA peers, growing the account’s following.  

“I guess, sometimes, it can be kind of awkward, having a camera out in their faces,” Kumar said. “But, after the first couple of times, they just really appreciate the work at the end of the day. And it’s really cool to see that people can be so happy over me kind of just clicking a few buttons.”

Yet, it wasn’t until he began taking pictures at live concerts that the casual hobby turned into a platform of thousands and a long-lasting passion. Even though it was difficult to put himself out there and get in contact with many of the bigger names, Kumar describes his first endeavors as an exciting experience. 

“The first concert I covered, I just rolled my camera and started trying things out. After I got home, I edited all the pictures, made a video, and then reached out to the artist’s manager,” Kumar said. “And, [the manager] was like ‘oh, your work is really cool’ and that was when I started getting appreciation for my work.” 

With the help of his friend, junior Ansh Patel, Kumar was able to get in touch with several high profile rappers and take his camera, a Sony a6000, to other venues around Massachusetts. One of his first posts that gained significant attention were pictures and videos from an Afterlife Presents LLC show, which featured artists like Cheromani, Yvngxchris, Dev Stacks, Jaydes, and Rich Amiri.

“That show just had so much energy and AK [Arnav] captured that perfectly. We made a lot of connections at that concert which led to him ramping up and going to bigger venues,” Patel said. “But the traction from that show was when we really thought we could take this seriously and do the bigger concerts and make the bigger connections.”

Since then, Kumar has expanded the account to star multiple prominent rappers such as NAV, Jay Critch, and Lancey Foux. According to Bhat, the account’s growth was one that came with a lot of recognition throughout the school. And although Kumar had gained the support of his peers, the process didn’t come without challenges.

“Our whole group still knew Arnav as Arnav, our friend who takes pictures, not as AK, the photographer,” Bhat said. “But as Arnav gained presence some people started to stop seeing him as a person almost […] and it was the name brand people cared more about. But, since then, he’s made a lot of changes, acquiring management, reaching out to celebrity brands and networking to create more opportunities.”

Both Bhat and Patel point towards Kumar’s immense dedication and passion as the source of his success. While the account started as an outlet for a casual interest, the its tremendous growth is the result of Kumar’s consistent efforts to improve his technique and adapt to the world of social media photography.

“Arnav is versatile in all extensions of the world and can adapt to many different settings and styles,” Bhat said. “He is really great at gauging what type of pictures will convey the exact feeling of that moment or event. His editing, cropping and lens choices only compliment the moment rather than take away from it […]. The ones who have supported him from the beginning are excited to see what he does next.”

In the future, Kumar hopes to expand his photography business, producing higher quality works, reaching out to even larger creators, and creating music videos for artists. For the next four years, Kumar is planning to major in computer science, but aims to keep his passion for the camera by his side.

“I am excited for [the] summer because I will have a lot of free time when it comes to working on different projects,” Kumar said. “I want to continue enjoying photography and just keep working my best on it.”