We had the good fortune of connecting with Ashwin Salvi and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Ashwin, what role has risk played in your life or career?
Risk is an interesting concept. I don’t tend to agree with “risk”, I view it more as opportunity. Risk has a negative connotation and might deter action whereas viewing things as an opportunity promotes growth, exploration, and learning. I’ve found that changing my mindset from risk to opportunity has enabled life and career moves I never imagined, no doubt inspired by my parents who moved halfway across the world for a better future. I’m a Ph.D. Mechanical Engineer by training and was set for a career in a traditional engineering role until I discovered an opportunity in Washington D.C. that would significantly expand my technological background and add in a commercialization perspective. It was a “risky” move since it was a limited term position that enabled a skillset that future employers didn’t know how to value, but it was also the reason that I secured a position that combines my interest in science and technology commercialization and relocated me to San Diego. This opportunity mindset is exactly why I also launched my photography business. I was told by friends and family that my photos were good – a common trap many people fall into when you take photos with a “real” camera. To make it a business, however, takes a lot more work than what budding photographers realize. There’s a lot on the line – there’s a significant amount of gear involved, there’s criticism and comparison of your work, there’s client pressure and expectation, and worst of all there’s your own imposter syndrome. But all of that disappears when you see how much you’ve grown in your profession and how much joy you’ve brought to your clients. That wouldn’t have been possible without embracing the opportunity. The thought that changed it all for me is this: you only have one life and every second that ticks by will NEVER be recovered, so how do you want to spend your limited time on earth? I want to aggressively pursue life, explore new opportunities, meet different people, embrace different cultures, give more than I take, leave the world a better place, and be a kind human. What about you?
Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
I’m a photographer mainly focusing on landscape, street scenes, and portraits. I love the idea of capturing a moment in time that will never be repeated again – whether it is a certain look on someone’s face, or a cloud pattern in the sky. This is best represented by my photo called “Love Like This”. I was photographing the bioluminescence in March of 2020 when I noticed a couple sitting on the edge of a cliff watching the show nature was putting on. Something about that moment spoke to me – the world just had the rug pulled out from under its feet from the Coronavirus pandemic and here are these two people that are so caught up in admiring the beauty of nature that they sat still enough for a 13 second long photo. It just goes to show that there is beauty everywhere, sometimes you just need to change your attitude and perspective to see it. That’s what I bring to my photography – a unique perspective.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
You can’t come to San Diego and not go to the beach. Coronado is my favorite beach in town, the sand is so soft! After that, I would head into Hotel Del Coronado and tour the historic building. I love the gift shop there – it’s full of historic photos and memorabilia, and they play “Some like it hot” with Marilyn Monroe, Tony Curtis, and Jack Lemmon :). After that, I’d grab a drink at the outdoor bar and watch the sunset. For sure we’d need to hit the beach/ocean for another day where we go surfing, or snorkeling, or kayaking. La Jolla is a good location for this. Perhaps even rent a sailboat and go out into the ocean for the day. The San Diego Zoo and the Safari Park is definitely on the list – there’s nothing more fun than watching the hippos swim, or watching the exotic birds fly around in the aviary (just don’t look straight up – birdie in the sky, dookie in my eye), or going on a safari and feeding giraffes. Being a photographer, I would take them to the Lik gallery and the National Geographic gallery in La Jolla – those places have some absolutely phenomenal artwork and are great places for inspiration. One of the cool things about San Diego is that it is so close to the mountains. Perhaps one day would be a hike up to Cuyamaca Peak and then head into Julian for apple pie, specifically warm dutch apple pie from Julian Pie Co with vanilla ice cream on the side. Sorry, I think I just drooled a little. Depending on the season (and global pandemic status), I’d also want to check out a Padres game with either before/after dinner and drinks in Gaslamp. La Puerta is my goto for burritos, Barley Mash for ridiculously good fries, Cold Beers and Cheeseburgers for… cold beers and cheeseburgers. My favorite place to end the night is at The Whiskey House because, whiskey. Another fun place to stop by for a bit is Coin Op – I randomly met Bernie Sanders in the downtown location! Finally, no trip is complete without a bar crawl. There are tons and tons of breweries and bars around town, but I like being able to walk to them so I’d say roaming around Little Italy is ideal. A few places to hit: Morning Glory, rooftop of Born and Raised, Kettner Exchange, and Nolita Hall. After that, just stroll up the street to Azuki Sushi for some of the best sushi I’ve ever had – 100% get the Are You Kidding Me Roll. It’s just that good.
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
I 100% would not be who or where I am today without my parents – they have shown me the virtues of hard work, have shown me what it means to be a generous and caring human, and have sacrificed so much in order to enable a better life for our family. They are kind, understanding, loving, adventurous, entertaining, and humorous – and role models for anyone they meet. I simply cannot express how much they mean to me and how much I love them. I also wouldn’t be where I am today without all of my friends that inspire and support me continuously and tirelessly. There are far too many to name (hey, it takes a village) – from lifelong friends to people I’ve met recently, you all are a part of who I am. Thank you. And of course, my clients – thank you for appreciating my work and for joining me on this journey!
Personal photo courtesy of Victor Marmolejo. Logo by Teny Chen.