KATHMANDU, Dec 12: At the beginning Judging by what Rajiv Shrestha says, fashion photography in Nepal is relatively a recent phenomenon. He says he has been involved in this field for the last 25 years.
Along with Anup Prakash, Shrestha is one of the first fashion photographers in Nepal. While Anup is the man who brought our favorite Nepali celebrities on the covers of the various issues of WAVE magazine, Shrestha brought glamour to many magazines and weeklies.
When Shrestha returned from Mumbai after five years of working under his elder brother, also a fashion photographer based in Mumbai, he wanted to see Nepal’s tinsel town as glamorous as Mumbai’s.
To his dismay, however, no celebrity had a proper notion of a photo shoot. He says, “Celebrities would ask me to click their pictures. Just like that. I had to explain that being glamorous wasn’t that easy. They thought getting dolled up was limited only to shooting for movies.”
He then made it his mission to explain the concept of fashion photography, hire a makeup artist and get the celebrities ready for his lenses.
“I did my first fashion shoot with Karishma Manandhar [née KC], then unmarried,” says Shrestha who also runs a website showcasing his photographs. Netnasha.com has been running for seven years now.
Anup, 41, says it has been 24 years in photo shoot for him. “I do portrait and landscape photography as well. But fashion photography is what I truly enjoy,” he says.
Anup has long been in deciding the theme, choosing the right clothes for the models and even teaching new models how to strike perfect poses.
Here, Usha Pun is flanked by two of her photographs. The young fashion photographer likes being experimental and is interested in conceptual photography.
“It’s been 19 years with WAVE Magazine,” he remembers. Anup also did stints under his brother in Mumbai.
Both pioneers of fashion photography say it’s so much easier for upcoming fashion photographers. Everyone seems to consider himself a photographer. There is more than a hint of disdain as they say this. Anup says, “If you have a camera today, you’re a photographer.”
Compared to a few years back, photography is almost simple these days, state the two veterans. A digital camera makes it possible to see the result instantly and no time is wasted tossing and turning.
Shrestha reminisces, “We would spend many sleepless hours, waiting for the next day to arrive so that we could see how the pictures had turned out.”
Touching up photographs has also become a norm at present, laments Anup.
The present breed
“I’m known as a fashion photographer through my work at Navyaata. But I would call myself a portrait photographer,” says Sworup Ranjit.
His photos have definitely upped the glamour quotient of the magazine. The fresh looks of the covers beckon many readers. Describing his role during photo shoots, he says, “The stylists come up with the theme and since I’m not much into styling, it’s my aesthetic inputs that I share with them.”
Usha Pun, 23, is another young fashion photographer with Navyaata where she has been working for the last three years.
By her own accounts, she likes conceptual photography. Looking at some of her photographs, one is bound to question them. A majority of her pictures have a curtain of gloom cascaded over them. But contrary to the assumptions, she is not a sad person. “It’s like I’m channeling my alter ego,” she tries to explain.
Last year, she had a photo exhibition at Helena’s Restaurant in Kathmandu where she had 24 photos on display. All of them have been sold. Usha is interested in analog photography and would like to work in an international magazine like Vogue where she can put an experimental twist to the mainstream fashion spread.
Sanjog Rai, 23, came by fashion photography when one of his friends asked him to help make her portfolio.
“I was actually fascinated by portrait photography. It was a medium I could use to express myself. But since that shoot with my friend, I came to love fashion photography. I could be different, be impractical, be anything that could assert integrity of purpose and imaginative vision instead of being a slave of the ordinary,” he states.
He describes himself as a fashion and fine arts photographer who loves shooting in black and white as it gives more depth to the picture. For him, shooting is fun when he has unique models.
“I like working with the oddball types of models who look very unusual or distinctive in photographs. I also like working with new models, as it helps me grow with them; there is so much of challenge there,” he says.
Sanjog, the first nude photographer of Nepal, shares that it wasn’t easy for him when he pursued it, as everyone knows, with nudity we are balancing a very thin line where beautiful can be pushed to vulgar and vice versa very easily.
“A nude body is an art in itself but one wrong highlight or shadow can make it look very vulgar. I like the challenge of making it look artistic,” he states.
“I won’t accept being just another photographer,” he says. He works as a mannequin stylist at the Tom Ford designer showroom in Milan. Apart from that, he is also working with various modeling agencies.
Future is good
Nowadays, there are a lot of opportunities, says Anup. He considers maintaining good working relationship is as important as hard work if you want to get ahead.
It’s not just the makeup, the hair, or the clothes that constitute all the elements of fashion photography. Lighting is very important, stresses Shrestha. The lenses of the camera are more important than the camera itself, says Anup.
The fashion market is rising steadily, with people readily agreeing to experiment more and more. For our young and budding fashion photographers, the horizon looks promising.