[Interview] Rohan Shrestha On Portrait Photography, A Successful Career And Building Skills In Both

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Born and based in Bombay, Rohan Shrestha, eminent photographer, was born to a Nepalese father (who himself is a retired professional photographer) and a Goan mother. Oscillating between his Buddhist-Hindu and Catholic upbringing, Shrestha grew up spoiled, overly bratty yet introverted. “I was always an average student. I was more inclined towards creativity,” he tells us. “Plus I absolutely love football. I began playing professional football at the age of 18.”

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From playing professional football to shooting professional photo shoots six years later, his journey has been nothing less than inspiring. Sure, he had a photographer dad but that never made it any easier for him. His perseverance, desire to learn and continuously outdo himself every time he picks up a camera is something we here at TYS really look up to. Astounded by this man’s achievements and awestruck by the way he does his work, we got in touch with him for an interview where he spoke to us about success, travelling, portrait photography and much more!

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In another one of his interviews he stated that photography was his last choice and we wondered why. Like any other Indian kid out there, he was extremely scared. “All of a sudden at the age of 18 I had to choose what I wanted to do with my life. It definitely wasn’t easy,” he shares.

I did not want to step into the profession my father was in. Until he retired, my father was an exceptional photographer with an excellent clientele.

“I felt the pressure because I knew I would be compared to him. Even now people tell me that I am not as energetic as he was during his shoots.  I am completely opposite of him. I don’t like to talk too much.”

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Having a well-known, established photographer as his father did not mean starting his career was a bed of roses. In fact, it was made sure that he experienced the struggle and worked his way up. Reinstating this, he says, “I really had to prove myself. I started out as an intern at 18 and started photographing professionally at the age of 24. I shot random people, earned three thousand bucks a shoot. Seven years into my profession, I met and shot Shah Rukh Khan. I have had the privilege of working with Mr. Amitabh Bachchan. So, I had to work for whatever I got and that is why I am thankful for everything that I have.”

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From the first big cover he shot with Ranbir Kapoor for Filmfare until now, his experience thus far has been exhilarating.

I never stopped learning. I have been able to work with and continue to work with great people. Some of whom I have grown up with and some of whom I have grown up watching!

The one thing that he absolutely loves about his profession is the fact that he is free to do whatever he wants to do. He doesn’t lead a mundane, 9-5 life. Still, a photo shoot is not just him. It is an amalgamation of different people- from the makeup artist to the stylist. “Before we begin shooting, we start referencing, mood-boarding and ideating,” he discloses, “Even if one of us is out of sync there is potential for the photo shoot to go wrong.”

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Even after working with a myriad of celebrities, he doesn’t have a favorite photo shoot. “I get to work on super cool concepts with massive celebrities and they’re all so different. That’s probably the reason why I don’t have a favorite shoot.” He’s never been the kind to be star struck either.

The only time was star struck was during a shoot I did for Zidane who is definitely one of the best football players of all time.

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In his journey as a photographer, the one thing that has aided him and that inspires him every single day are his travels.

My journeys introduce me to new people who really help me evolve as a person. Travelling really opens your eyes and helps in your evolution.

He sure must have done a lot of travelling, in that case! If he had to choose, which one would be his favorite city? The answer is simple, “My most favorite city has got to be New York. It is my second home as I spent two most amazing years of my life, here. This is where I met an array of creative people who I can call my friends.” He says that his travels are what really helped him understand photography; it is, quite astonishingly, his travel-work that is non commercial even though it is something he’d really like to be known for.

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Having had it as difficult to climb the ladder of success in an industry where professions become family businesses and the comparisons he’s always had to face, we asked him if he ever faced moments of doubts and insecurity? “Hell yes!” he exclaims, “I belong to a highly competitive industry where I began as competitive photographer.” But over the course of these 7 years, as he began to discover himself, he gradually began to achieve a state of tranquility. “Now, I work better when I am in a calm state.”

Today, we see a lot of people converting their love for fashion into their professions by becoming fashion bloggers or photographers and gaining amazing levels of popularity.  This ongoing trend of fashion being integrated into everyday lives of common people is something that isn’t hidden from us. Shrestha is no stranger to this. “Today, the world works on a digital spectrum. I see a lot of fashion bloggers out there most of whom are professionals. So when people see them, they do want to be a part of the conversation.”

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With apps like Instagram and Snapchat being two of the most popular platforms for photographers to display their work, it’s not uncommon to find aspiring photographers using the Internet, which is taking the idea of both amateur and professional photography to a whole new level, as a medium for the same. What advice does he have for such photographers, trying to make it big in the a world where you must see through a lens?

Instagram filters are very generic. It is about establishing yourself as a photographer.

“It takes time and understanding. Today, people hardly have any patience. One can’t exactly wing their way into photography. I started out at the age of 18 and began shooting professionally at the age of 24. Photography is an extension of the eye,” Sreshtha explains. “A picture is more than what meets the eye. And as a photographer, you need to be mature enough to be able to capture something like that. ”

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To end the interview on a lighter note us inquisitive Sparrows had a few fun questions for Rohan that he answered with loads of enthusiasm! Turns out, three artists/songs that he is loving right now are La Vie En Rose by Edith Piaf, Nina Simone and My Way by Frank Sinatra.

The three things that he is dying to scratch off his bucket list are that he wants to shoot Leo Messi (YAS!),  bungee jump and dive in Antarctica. Oh, did we tell you that he is a trained scuba diver (teach us your ways, Senpai!)?! And finally- he is a Cule! Puyol, a retired central defender (and may I add, one of the bests we have seen till date!) is his all time favorite player.

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Rohan is a man with a vision who strives for excellence. His passion is awe inspiring and his talent is more than just incredible. Honestly, we can’t wait to see more of his gorgeous photoshoots and portrait photography! They say each picture is worth a thousand words; in Rohan Shrestha’s case, they are simply priceless. With his vision, we know that he will only reach higher levels of success and recognition. You want to look at more of his work (don’t lie to us) so you can check him out on his website and Instagram.

Featured Image Courtesy Of My Dreams Mag
All Other Images Courtesy of Rohan Sreshtha 

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