Ahead of her photography workshop at Project Mynt, we caught up with Nayantara Parikh for a quick interview to learn a bit more about her and her body of work.
“I’ve known I’ve wanted to be behind the camera since I was 16,” says Nayantara Parikh, a Delhi-based fashion photographer whose work has been published in Raghu Rai’s Creative Image Magazine, Elle, Harper’s Bazaar, Verve Magazine and Vogue. The 30 year old creative professional has an impressive client list that includes homegrown brands such as Nicobar, Ritu Kumar, and Bhane, as well as internationally recognized ones like H&M, Gucci, Swarovski, and Burberry. She’s also worked with Rupi Kaur, Spike Lee and Mumford and Sons. When she hasn’t been commissioned to create her signature brand of imagery, Nayantara Parikh spends her days working on her personal body of work with intimate portraits redefining Indian female identity and the female gaze intertwined with moody botanicals.
One look at her portfolio and you’d have a hard time believing that Parikh only began her career as a fashion photographer four years ago. In fact, when she was fresh out of high school, Parikh went to New York to explore the craft of moving pictures–not stills. She pursued a BFA in Film with a specialization in cinematography at NYU’s prestigious Tisch School of the Arts, “Over the course of my classes, I realized that I was passionate about working with the camera, not directing or producing. I trained as a cinematographer and assisted several DoPs on over ten feature films, numerous music videos and TV shows. When I moved back to India in 2014, I made the shift to still photography. My work continues to be informed by what I learned when I worked in motion pictures.”
Her first photography assignment, Parikh shares, was for an e-commerce website. “My sister had designed a line of clothing, and we thought it would be fun to shoot something together.” “The greatest challenge the shoot presented”, she says, “was, and still continues to be, my health. Overcoming my physical limitations and pushing the boundaries of what I think I can do, and of what my body allows me to do is a constant challenge. But, the pure joy of shooting can make any tough shoot day easier. The feeling of connecting with the subject through my camera, and catching that intimate and vulnerable moment is so revelatory”.
Her favourite shoot to date is one with her sister, Karuna Ezara Parikh, a personal project titled Berlin Series. She says, “It was completely impromptu and there was no brief; we just let ourselves create and there was a raw energy in the air. When we saw the results we knew we were on to something, and have continued to create together over the years.”
More excerpts from the interview below:
Project Mynt: What’s the best piece of professional advice you’ve gotten?
Nayantara Parikh (NP): Keep shooting things you really want to shoot, along with what you need to shoot for work/money. That way you can build up a body of work that you actually like, and will eventually get more projects along the lines of what you love doing.
Project Mynt: Who or what inspires you?
NP: I’m constantly inspired by natural beauty like the mountains, for example. Good stories and movies can always transport you to a completely different world-they activate your imagination, which is so important to keep the creative juices flowing.
Project Mynt: What’s a day in the life of a fashion photographer like?
NP: Depends on the day! On a shoot day we drive to the location, set up the lighting from the lighting plans I’ve made prior to the shoot, wait for the model to finish hair and make up, and then shoot. Though different challenges arise at different shoots, the order of things is almost always the same.
Project Mynt: If there was one thing you could tell aspiring fashion photographers, what would it be?
NP: Keep shooting and stop comparing. Don’t copy other people’s work, create your own.
Project Mynt’s fashion photography workshop, delivered by Parikh, has been designed to provide participants with a basic understanding of how to conceptualise and produce a fashion shoot. If you think fashion photography may be your next thing, find out more about the workshop here.