In the early 2000s, being a brown kid (one of the three in my elementary school) meant you would get picked out easily. During Bush's Presidency, we were in Iraq and we would get bullied for things that happened overseas. [Futhermore], when I was younger I hated my culture and felt disappointed in my cultural differences. As I grew up, I realized those cultural differences are my identity. It is who I am, and I can't disregard that. My Dad just wanted to give us a better life than he had growing up, so we didn’t have to struggle as much as he did. Being first-generation was tough because of my name. It is unique and growing up in a predominantly white area everyone asked “what’s your name? How do you pronounce it? At first, my background didn’t influence me as a photographer because usually, parents want us to become doctors or lawyers. My parents didn’t push me to do any of that [since] I’ve always been creative and was never good at math. My parents wanted me to follow my own path. With photography, I picked it up out of the blue.
At first, it was a coping mechanism. I was going through some hard things at the time, and I needed something to keep me occupied. I saw videos about camera basics and such things on YouTube. I never heard of any photographers in my area. Being Punjabi and being a photographer isn’t something you hear a lot. Once my parents found out what my true passion was, they pushed me to pursue it.
I drove a truck with my dad one day. My dad and I stopped somewhere in Denver and it was pitch dark black. I’m sitting in the front eating my food and my dad is in the back eating his food. For a moment I had to stop and realize a few things. Thinking from his perspective, I realized that my dad does this by himself every single day without any question or doubt in his mind. Thinking about how my dad is usually alone, sitting at a stop simply eating alone put everything into perspective. It made me feel thankful that I have immigrant parents and even more thankful knowing what hard work means. My dad is in danger because of his identity but he goes to work every day without a doubt. He has been working multiple different styles of jobs (in the kitchen, factory, etc.) which led him to know that he didn’t want his kids to live that type of life. That is now a constant reminder for me. Coming from an immigrant background, you set high standards for yourself.
Immigrant parents tend to work a lot harder than the average parent. They work hard to provide and just to make sure their kids are happy. Whether it is for necessities or putting us through school, they work way too hard for it.