Bitten by the creative bug

Published On: December 20, 2019 10:53 AM NPT By: Anweiti Upadhyay

If you like to keep yourself abreast of what’s happening in the fashion scene in Nepal, you might be familiar with photographer Sujan Pradhan Shrestha’s works. Shrestha, who takes the official photos for quite a few fashion brands including DS Collections, is a popular name within the fashion industry. However, for Shrestha, photography was just a hobby initially and he never thought it would go on to become a full-fledged career for him. 

Shrestha confesses that he gradually fell in love with this form of visual craft over the years and that he now immensely enjoys what he does, so much so that he can’t even imagine doing something else.

Even before he started working as a photographer, Shrestha used to upload the pictures he had taken on his Instagram account. He mentions that he largely honed his skills by following tutorials on YouTube and that he was a dedicated learner. 

Around four years ago, a wedding company contacted him for a wedding/event photography project and he agreed to it immediately, thinking it was the right thing to do because by then he knew he wanted to become a professional photographer. 

Two years went by as Shrestha did wedding and event photography. During this time, he realized that wedding and events, however, weren’t what he wanted to photograph, not in the least bit. He claims that he couldn’t play with techniques and be creative with his shots, as there seemed to be a standard format that most people preferred. He thus felt restricted and the desire to be innovative and try some different was tremendous. 

That’s when he decided to take up fashion photography. “And I’m glad I made the switch,” he says adding that he has a lot more creative control over his work now and that the results of two different projects are never the same.  

Shrestha says that besides fashion, he also does product photography as both of these—fashion and product—are interrelated and kind of taken as a single entity by businesses and he gets experiment and try new things in both these areas. 

Although he claims to be enjoying his work right now, Shrestha mentions that he does want to quit commercial photography in the future and venture into other forms of photography that will allow him to exercise even more creativity. Another reason why he wants to make this change is because he believes this will also allow him to travel more frequently and to a lot of new, interesting, and cool places. 

Shrestha says that even now, because he is a freelance photographer, he does get approached for these kinds of projects once in a while but he is quick to add that he feels getting to do just those kinds of work would definitely be even more enjoyable.

One such project that he recently worked on was for an event hosted by some foreigners in Solukhumbu. He mentions that although he had to work harder than usual for the project, he didn’t feel the least bit bogged down. 

“I enjoyed the challenge so much that it didn’t even feel like work to me,” says Shrestha. He further explains that although he can’t really slot the project into a specific genre, he thinks it could be considered a mixture of street and travel photography.

“Something I’ve been noticing among photographers is how they are just trying to copy what others do and don’t use their own imaginations,” says Shrestha commenting on the photography scene in Nepal. He states that, as with any industry based on art and artistry, photographers have to be observant, play around with the angles and think of new ways to portray a content that has been covered so many times already. “You will only have a voice and a place in the industry if you try and bring in a new perspective,” he concludes.

Behind the scene at a fashion shoot
Shrestha mentions that he gets approached for most of his projects through Instagram—especially for fashion and product photography—and that he takes on around six projects every month.

According to Shrestha, at most fashion photo shoots, the model’s hair and makeup take up a lot time so he uses this time to explore the location or set and discuss the concept of the shoot in detail with the stylists, makeup artists, and the creative director.

Once the model is ready, he takes a few test shots to check the lighting and other elements that are crucial to get right for good photos and only then does the shoot start. 

“It’s a little easier and the work gets done faster if the model is experienced and comfortable in front of the camera,” says Shrestha adding that there have been times when he has had to take 500 to 600 photos to get that one perfect shot. “All a part of the job,” he says. 

The photographer is a freelancer focusing on fashion, lifestyle, travel and street photography.

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