In Conversation With Fashion Photographer, Nayantara Parikh

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

 

Insanely conceptualized photography shoots that we love!

The art of weaving a story through images is a craft that only a few have mastered. It requires patience, creativity and an original idea which is complemented by abstract thought. Here are some insanely conceptualized fashion shoots by Indian photographers, that we have absolutely  fallen in love with! 

Ishaan Nair 

We love the warm tones and the uniqueness of this image! It brings out an almost fun-but- chill kind of vibe through all the beautiful bright colors. The picture is a reminder of the good and the not so good times we have had hanging out with our mates in our comfort zone.

Ishaan Nair

Nirvair Rai 

Fashion, according to Nirvair, is about people wearing clothes rather than just clothes exclusively. This beautiful image is of a real-life vagabond from Pushkar, a Banjara Kalbeliya woman. She looks comfortable and is glowing with happiness while wearing a boho-inspired dress designed by Ishita Verma. We love the use of natural outdoor lighting and the natural setting. And not to forget, that lovely carefree smile! 

Nirvair Rai

Nayantara Parikh 

This tribute to Frida Kahlo is called Blue House. Conceptualized by Nayantara and Karuna, this is one of the most mesmerizing shoots we have come across! We love the unique elements like the langoor, the Ogaan dress that Karuna is wearing, the beautiful tables and the patterned floor. The light falls beautifully on the subjects face which makes the picture almost surreal. 

Nayantara Parikh

Aman Makkar 

In this conceptual shoot called Where The Wild Things are Aman Makkar captures the raw aesthetic of the wild with horses. The photo gives us an essence of the wilderness while creatively using the lighting on the model.  

Aman Makkar

Lekha Rathnam x Divya Balakrishnan

Ace photographer Lekha Rathnam and Bengaluru based fashion stylist Divya Balakrishnan collaborated on this conceptualized shoot called Mylapore which depicts the beauty of the community in Tamil Nadu. This unique shoot attempts to capture Tamil heritage in a simple yet authentic manner. 

Lekha Rathnam

 

 

Looking to explore fashion photography? Head over to www.projectmynt.com/courses and learn more about our upcoming fashion photography workshop with Nayantara Parikh at the end of August!

Best Cameras To Buy For Amateur Photographers

I am often asked, “What is the best camera?” Or, “Which is a good camera to buy?” Typically, the person asking is anxious and excited, someone planning to pursue photography as a hobby or a potential career. The answer needn’t be as complicated as it is often made out to be.  Let’s begin by addressing some of the reasons why buying your first camera feels like such a complicated decision. 

  • You don’t know what all the tech jargon means
  • You don’t really know what you intend to shoot and what you don’t care to shoot
  • Cameras are expensive
  • There is a massive industry whose only job is to sell you the latest, greatest camera that will apparently turn you into an amazing photographer.

Let me start by tackling these issues in reverse. The words megapixel, autofocus, low light and image stabilization enter the lexicon of many amateurs and hobbyists long before they even begin to marvel at form, shadows, light and texture. While understanding camera technology is important, the current levels of tech obsession are grossly overdone even for most working professionals, let alone hobbyists.

Ask yourself a simple question – how many of your photos are going to be printed and how many will never ever go beyond being shared on Instagram or Facebook. I am not belittling social media but it’s important to understand that even if your camera has 1000 megapixels, Instagram and Facebook just about accept an image that is 1080 pixels wide. If I translate that sentence to English, it means that even a budget smartphone today produces an image that is overkill for Instagram and Facebook in terms of megapixels. 

Similarly, autofocus speeds and low light performance are great tools but mean absolutely nothing unless your primary photographic subjects are Olympic athletes or the secret life of fruit bats. I assure you that the autofocus on your smart phone paired with the powerful presence of a biscuit will slow your pet dog down to the point where you can nail the perfect shot sans a one lakh rupee DSLR. 

So, to begin with, disregard all the hoopla around camera specs. Perhaps the only camera specs to really think about are size and weight. I feel compelled to explain my standpoint at this juncture. As you delve into the wonderful world of photography, the one thing your camera needs to be really good at is becoming a seamless part of your life. It is this ability to have an unobtrusive camera as companion that will allow you to test and explore the subjects that really make you tick. 

In the interests of full disclosure, my approach to exploring photography is everyday rather than simply on holidays or on the odd day that you decide to lug your DSLR around to a few monuments. And so my top recommendation for a beginner camera is a really good cellphone. Hey, don’t fall off your chair! 

It’s no secret that cellphone cameras have come a long way but what most people don’t realize is that cellphones have a neat trick up their sleeve that no DSLR can accomplish. Cellphone cameras don’t make people uncomfortable! Imagine yourself aiming a DSLR roughly the size of your head at your parents as they break into a laugh or aiming one at your siblings when they act corny. In all probability if the size of the camera doesn’t catch their attention, the gun shot slap of the shutter will. Professional photographers spend considerable time refining their technique to use DSLRs without setting off their subjects. Cellphone cameras offer amateurs and hobbyists a massive head start to explore varied subjects without having to learn how to manipulate a DSLR.

My top picks for good cellphone cameras are: 

  1. Google Pixel 3A/3 (Whichever doesn’t send your bank account into a tailspin)
  2. iPhone XR/XS (For those who are still paying Apple tax, myself included)
  3. One Plus 7/7 PRO (Arguably the best value for money)
  4. Redmi Note 7 pro (For those on a tight budget)

All the above cellphones share one single thing in common. Their cameras start up fast and often don’t need you to unlock your phone. All of them have reasonably good lenses and sensors. So pick one that fits your budget. You really can’t go wrong!

For those of you who think that cellphone cameras don’t give you enough control over photos, come join the MYNT Cellphone Photography Capsule. I will give you a money back guarantee if I can’t change your mind about cellphone cameras. 

I can sense the frown on your forehead as you wonder how a cellphone camera can shoot in dim lighting and how it can capture the details of flowers and the beautifully random movement of birds. While we at MYNT can teach you how to shoot any and all of these subjects with your cellphone, a dedicated camera can offer you some advantages. However, the answer to your woes is still not a DSLR. Most of us find ourselves in dimly lit conditions at parties, that is of course, when we aren’t marveling at birds and flowers. A DSLR at a party is like an SUV at an F1 race. It’s plain clumsy and overkill. The same holds true for beautiful vistas we encounter when we travel. A small pocketable camera with a good viewfinder will let you shoot some stunning and candid images in almost any light condition. 

My Top Picks:

  1. Sony RX100 VII or Sony RX 100 VA (Get whichever is carrying a heavier discount)
  2.  Panasonic Lumix TZ 200 or Lumix DC-LX100 Mark II (The latter offers more control but doesn’t fit in a jeans pocket and the former fits in a jeans pocket and has an impressive auto mode)
  3. Fujifilm X100f (Hands down the best camera if you are really committed to honing your photographic craft. NOTE: Doesn’t have a zoom lens! Many pros don’t use zoom lenses either )
  4. Ricoh GR (A similar approach as the Fuji X100f but can fit in a shirt pocket)

Some of you may wonder why I am recommending tiny point-and-shoot cameras that cost as much or more than DSLRS. The reason is simple. These cameras pack a massive punch in a small package. In many light conditions you can’t tell their images apart from a DSLR and they help you overcome many of the complications in understanding camera technology with an easy learning curve. These cameras can be found in the hands of many working pros for the simple no fuss approach to photography they offer. 

For those of you who are still unconvinced, only and only if you see yourself making a living from photography, consider a DSLR or an interchangeable lens camera (ILC). These cameras by virtue of allowing you to mount varied lenses are more flexible and can grow with your interests and skill. These cameras demand that you spend time understanding the technology built into them and spend time learning to use the technology to render your imagination into images. 

My top picks:

  1. Fujifilm XE 3 with 18-55 kit lens (Perhaps the only thing this camera won’t excel at is shooting wildlife. In every other way it’s near perfect. The analog controls can be a great learning tool for beginners and pros) 
  2. Canon 200D Mark II with EF-S 18-55 kit lens (Optional get the twin kit lens pack that includes an EF-S 55-250 lens if you intend to shoot live performances and birds)
  3. Nikon 3500D with Nikkor 18-55 kit lens (Optional get the twin-kit lens pack that includes a Nikkor 70-300 lens if you intend to shoot live performances and birds)

Here is hoping that I have spared you hours of internet research and agonizing over budgets. Get a camera that catches your fancy and come join us at MYNT to get your photographic journey started.

 

 

P.S: In case you think I am being paid by these companies to push their phones or cameras, I swear by all my photographic gods that is not the case. 

 

Interesting Career Opportunities in Photography

With the improvement in the technology of phone cameras and the “share-it” mindset that apps such as Instagram have brought along, photography as a career has really boomed in the recent past. Presently, opportunities are plenty for photographers but as with everything else, they come with an equal amount of competition to be the best in the industry. As with any creative profession, one has to constantly keep upping your game to stay relevant and be future ready.

We live in a world full of instant photography, one where every smartphone has a camera which can freeze unlimited moments at the click of a button. This wasn’t possible as recently as two decades ago when owning a camera or getting a picture clicked was a luxury which only a privileged few could have. But the world today has evolved, all thanks to the smartphones’ superlative cameras which can click tones of videos and pictures. Freezing memories daily has become an irreplaceable part of our lives.

Considering how the fashion, media and advertising industry is flourishing, photography has been emerging as a very lucrative career opportunity worldwide. Photography is now perceived as a full-time career than just a hobby and there are so many diverse sub-sectors in this field that most aspiring photographers just don’t know where to start.

Also read: Is Alternative Education your Next Thing? 

Today, we are going to cover all these diverse sub-sectors of photography (other than starting your very own studio) so you can be better informed about which direction you want to head in when it comes to pursuing photography.

Photography course

1) Fashion Photography: Possible the most glamorous side of the industry, this will let you express a more artistic, surreal style of photography. The job includes taking pictures of models wearing high-end fashion, commercial fashion in a studio or swimsuits on a beach. Fashion photographers create fantasy images of the ‘ideal look’ which encourage consumers to buy certain clothes, makeup, jewellery and accessories.

2) Portrait Photography: 
Taking pictures of people, either individually or in groups is the job of a portrait photographer. It essentially involves capturing precious family moments which includes both portrait shots as well as candid shots that capture the intimacy of a relationship or a child’s milestone birthday. To become a professional portrait photographer, the most important thing is to excellent interpersonal skills apart from an eye to identify and capture the right moment.

3) Forensic Photography: 
This particular stint requires much more than just photography skills! A forensic photographer must possess a great deal of knowledge regarding human anatomy and forensic procedures since their images are used to support evidence in legal cases in the court of law. It largely involves depicting crime scenes from various angles and distances and the eligibility requirement varies from department to department but experience in police work, forensics, crime scene investigation and photography will make an application more competitive.   

4) Nature, Wildlife and Travel Photography: 
Taking pictures of all aspects of nature which includes scenery and animals both is what includes the job of nature and wildlife photographer. This includes photos of specific kinds of animals, animal action shots, underwater shots, weather phenomenon and many more and the career path includes learning about nature, how animals behave, when are they active, finding local natural spots and being patient since nature doesn’t give you what you need in an instant!

Travel photography

5) Military Photography: A day in the life of an Army photographer might involve everything from snapping candid photos of soldiers at work to recording battlefield action as it happens. But not everyone can just join the Army and pick up a camera. The opportunity to record the Army in action takes special skills and specific training. As a military photographer, your photos would be used for recruitment, educational purposes, and historical documentation, similar to photojournalism.

6) Photojournalist: 
It is an art of creating a visual representation of a newsworthy event where words fall short. It most certainly is a broad career, since the field is extremely diverse, from international issues to local sports events and it comes with its own set of challenges. It’s one of the toughest fields to break into and requires a lot of passion and perseverance. To get into this field, photographers often get into a job at a newspaper or magazine. There’s a long period of freelance work also as you slowly build your portfolio and network.

7) Photo editor or digital imaging editor: This career is for those who have a keen eye in selecting the right image for a story and editing them for a magazine or a publication. The most essential skill is to have an eye for excellent photos and many times edit the photo to make it work for the specific purpose. A photo editor should understand how people react to pictures and should have a keen eye for detail.


Is photography your passion? Are you interested in freezing moments which will be cherished for generations? If it is so, check out our photography course on our website now and start the journey as a photographer!