This self-taught photographer shoots skyscrapers for a living

This self-taught photographer shoots skyscrapers for a living

Sanjog Mhatre runs Towering Goals, a popular Instagram account featuring the tallest buildings in Mumbai. This is the incredible story of how a young boy hit upon a genius idea while visiting his uncle in Lower Parel.

He was still in school when Sanjog Mahtre visited his uncle’s home, a chawl in the heart of Mumbai’s Lower Parel area. Outside of the MHADA building’s compound, the city was undergoing a massive transformation. The mills in the neighbourhood were making way for fancy malls and luxury skyscrapers. For those who’d seen Mumbai for decades, this was like tearing away the heart of the city that was once known as the Manchester of the East thanks to the cloth mills, both big and small. But for Mhatre, who was just 11 at the time, all the new construction was fascinating. Unlike most of us, he didn’t carry with him the baggage of history and all he saw around him were these tall buildings that seemingly touched the sky.

So, even though he returned to his home on the outskirts of Mumbai, Mhatre couldn’t forget the sight. He was drawn to those fascinating structures and he wanted more. Of course, he would have to wait for a few more years. In the meanwhile, he completed his schooling and got into a college. By now he’d been gifted a cameraphone that became his favourite tool as he went about photographing building that caught his fancy.

Interestingly, he was never attracted to the heritage buildings of Fort and Ballard Estate or the Art Deco buildings of Marine Drive. Sanjog Mhatre, who’s now 22, says it was the new towers that have caught his interest.

Photograph Courtesy: Sanjog Mhatre/Towering Goals

And so he walked around the neighbourhoods of Mahalaxmi, Parel and Dadar – the three hubs of construction activity at the time – and would take pictures of buildings from ground up. Over the course of two years, he followed the construction activity of every major project in the city. “I did so by logging on to a website called skyscrapercity.com. At the time, the intention wasn’t to start an Instagram but simply to visit them and photograph them,” he says. It was during these outings that Mhatre realised that he wasn’t altogether bad at photographing these structures and so, on one fine evening in 2015, after visiting nine skyscraper, he he asked a security guard of the tenth if he’d be allowed to shoot the view from one of the top floors. By some stroke of luck his boss didn’t see the harm and let him in. It was the first time, Sanjog Mhatre had been on the 55th floor of a building. The view left him speechless.

But it would be another couple of years before Mhatre would launch @towering_goals on Instagram and actually make a living off it. The opportunity came when he approached a sales manager at Indiabulls Sky. “In exchange for access, I offered the rights to my photographs for their promotions,” Mhatre recollects. And that was how things took off. Over the years, developers have noticed Mhatre’s work and tend to approach him to offer a unique view from their buildings.

Mhatre doesn’t let on how much he earns every month but says it’s a decent amount that doesn’t just help him run the house but also pays for all the equipment need to get shots as amazing as these.

Photograph Courtesy: Sanjog Mhatre/Towering Goals

It’s also empowered him to go back to school and get a degree in filmmaking. Sanjog Mhatre sees himself shooting breathtakingly beautiful views for the rest of his life and a college degree makes sure he’s taken seriously.

Here are some more pictures from Sanjog Mhatre’s Instagram feed:

Imperial Twin Towers and Imperial Edge, Tardeo, shot at sunset from Raheja Imperia, Lower Parel


Aerial view of Omkar 1973, Worli, Mumbai


Daytime and twilight view of Mumbai's eastern seaboard as seen from @piramalrealty Piramal Aranya, Byculla


Chilling lookdown: Kalpataru Avana, Parel


Helicopter flying towards Mahalaxmi Racecourse with Lodha Bellissimo and Lokhandwala Minerva in the backdrop