Exhibit caught up with the Photographer of the Month “Rohan Shrestha” for a long interesting chat on his love for photography and his two cents on the impact of technological influence on Photography. Read the whole interview below as he reveals excerpts from his journey and experiences!
Exhibit: Rohan Shrestha the photographer – describe your journey?
Rohan Shrestha: My dad was a pioneer of photography in India. So, it was a natural succession for me. But I didn’t begin wanting to do photography initially as I was always nervous and scared. It was like emulating a legend; I was always under the shadow of a legend. It wasn’t my first option – I tried my hand at other things as well but nothing really worked out. But I was always up and taking photographs since I was a kid. I had cameras all around me as my dad used to work from home at that time. My inclination towards arts, painting and sketching was a big part of my life and I gradually started becoming well-versed with photography. However, I wasn’t really sure until I started travelling and enjoying the aspect of photography all by myself. That’s when I actually realised that it was what I wanted to do.
“ At the end of the day, the camera is just an extension of the eye and doesn’t matter what you use it for. I do have another completely different side of photography where I exhibit my personal my artwork and showcase my travel work. I don’t promote it because I want it to grow organically. ”
Exhibit: Your very first photoshoot.
Rohan Shrestha: My first photoshoot was for a magazine called “L’Officiel India” on May 22nd 2009 – my first ever commercial and published shoot. I did a Fashion shoot for them which I was so nervous about it, to be honest. Obviously it was the most exciting shoot of my life but I was very scared and nervous. The team consisted of very big hair and makeup artists, the styling team I was working with were all seniors who had been there done that while I was a little kid who had no knowledge and zero clue about what I was doing in my life back when I was 24. 24 eight years ago was very different from what 24 is now. However, it turned out to be a fantastic shoot, one which I am very personally attached to it and it still stands as one of my favourite shoots.
Exhibit: Describe your style of photography.
Rohan Shrestha: I do so many types of photography that I don’t really know if I have a style. But I appreciate what I capture and that’s all I can do. At the end of the day, the camera is just an extension of the eye and doesn’t matter what you use it for. Photography as a medium itself is very vast, something that people don’t understand. We associate Indian photographers with genres; for example “Rohan Shrestha the Fashion or Bollywood Photographer”. But I do have another completely different side of photography where I exhibit my personal my artwork and showcase my travel work. I’ve been published in National Geographic, I shoot a lot of underwater stuff which people don’t know about because I can’t talk about. I have 112K followers on instagram but if I put up a picture of a Japanese wrecked ship, people won’t understand it because they typecast us in a certain way. It can also be because I also cater to a certain type of audience. So, in order to showcase that facet of my photography, I have created a separate account for people who want to follow my travel photographs. I don’t promote it because I want it to grow organically.
Exhibit: Rohan Shrestha and Tech.
Rohan Shrestha: I absolutely love tech! I am always updated with my Apple products from my Macbook Pro, to my iMac to my iPhone. I even use a lot of Samsung products. I love trying out new things – I am not averse to change, at all. Cliched but true – Change is constant – but especially in our field with the way technology has influenced photography. We have to be on the ball and know what’s happening because there’s so much equipment that goes into photography and not just the camera. If you’re not aware about what’s going on, our work would be stagnant after a while.
Exhibit: One indispensable photography equipment.
Rohan Shrestha: My lenses are my everything; I absolutely love them! I don’t care as much about my camera body as I do about the lenses. I am currently using Canon lenses and I also bought bokeh lenses online which are phenomenal. Your lens are paramount of the subject. Technology advancement will never stop and there will always be options and competitors but each camera is great in its own way. I’ve used a lot of cameras and don’t like to limit myself to one particular type.
Exhibit: How social media is shaping the course of photography?
Rohan Shrestha: It’s phenomenal! I always encourage healthy competition when people talk to me about competition, Instagram and the number of photographers. There are so many platforms to do photography – there are medium format, long format, film and pinhole cameras. Just because phones with better cameras turn up, people can’t turn their backs on all these. In India, parents always want kids to join the doctor, lawyer community rather than arts. We are always encouraged to study more but because of that, we also lose some of the aesthetic that makes India what it is – like the architecture and works by some of the artists painters we’ve had in the past.
All that is not as much appreciated as it should be because we aren’t as art savvy as a country. However, I am loving the fact that there are young kids who are starting to explore their artistic side. Too many kids come up to me and tell me that they are going to Bhutan just to take photographers. That’s awesome because that is what I was doing when I was 18! That time it was unheard of, but now because of social media, the photo sharing mechanism and sites like Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and Snapchat, there are just so many platforms to showcase your work because where else would you showcase your work? It might just another instagram picture, but that might encourage another kid to take up photography as a career, go out there and discover the world.
Exhibit: DSLRs v/s Phone cameras.
Rohan Shrestha: They’re two very different things. The portrait mode on iPhone can’t be compared to a Canon – it’s not even a comparison! Sure it makes clicking photos quicker when you are travelling but it’ll never replicate a DSLR, not at this point, at least. And also, do you really want your phone and your DSLR to be the same thing?
Exhibit: Education v/s Self-learning?
Rohan Shrestha: Using the internet today, you can learn anything online. I have myself done online courses to learn aspects of photography or to correct lighting techniques and they’re all easily accessible! Quite obviously, it will make a big difference to your work profile if you have a great teacher. However, at the same time, it’s not just how you see, but how you are work with people, how you network because Fashion and Bollywood photography is also about how you network apart from just being topnotch in your work.
Exhibit: Field of photography in the next 5 years.
Rohan Shrestha: Corporates, Businesses and Fashion designers all want to invest more in Social Media. In order to stand out on these mediums, your style of photography has to change because you’re not shooting for hoarding but more for instagram-size pictures which in turn let you experiment a lot more by pushing the boundary a lot. So, I personally feel that the biggest platform in the field of photography is digital because print is not as impactful as it used to be and the magnitude of impact Social media is creating is phenomenal!
Exhibit: Advice for aspiring photographers.
Rohan Shrestha: I’ve been very lucky to be able to reach where I am. But I feel I grew too fast. I didn’t appreciate the amount of things happening to me as a kid. Kids nowadays tend to get excited very quickly. I say, stand still, take a moment and just be grateful. Don’t be in a hurry to make money; money will come provided your work quality ups itself and that will happen when you keep shooting. Don’t dive in too early which is what I did.
“ My lenses are my everything; I absolutely love them! Your lens are paramount of the subject. Technology advancement will never stop and there will always be options and competitors but each camera is great in its own way. ”
- One photography cliché you keep yourself away from: Flat lightning, I hate it.
- One classic or contemporary photograph that speaks to you: Pictures shot by Paolo Roveri, a very famous Italian photographer, of two models Sacha Pivovarova and Natalia Vodianova. Also, he’s my biggest
inspiration; there’s no one bigger than him.
- If not photography, then what: I honestly have no clue. If I was younger, I would’ve chosen football but now I am a bit late (laughs).
- A gadget you swear by other than your laptop and smartphone: My Playstation.
- One unique gadget that you would love to own: I want to get some lenses for my Leica M6 which is a 1970s camera that was used to shoot the Vietnam war.
- Most costliest buy: New Macbook Pro and iMac.
- Go-to photography trick: Ambient light. By that I mean I don’t use flash at all because it’s more cinematic that way.