Tell us about the beginning of your journey.
Photography for me started when I went for a holiday to Kathmandu. I remember asking my father for a DSLR that he had bought, to document my travels. But to my surprise, he said ‘no’ and was very possessive about the camera. He told me if you are interested in photography, you need to start with the iPhone that you have. That time his possessiveness for his DSLR made me upset; however, inevitably, I realised that you don’t need an expensive camera to get good results. So, I set out on this holiday with my iPhone.
Instagram was on the rise then, so I wanted to explore photography and document my travels using this phone. Luckily, I did a little bit of research about composition, exposure and more, before I went. These kind of basic settings were available on the phone. I went through it and practised a little bit while travelling. The images surprised me quite a bit. I then decided to use Instagram to post my documentation. The reach of Instagram was so good that it surpassed my current statistics of Facebook. So it was an easy switch and it motivated me to get into photography. I started practising, showed my father the photographs and that sort of got the ball rolling, and he started believing that I was really interested in it. So finally, I was able to use his DSLR and actually start practising photography. I found my calling then, and I realised I could visualise something creative and show my perspective.
Building a rapport and making the subject comfortable is of utmost importance. What are your views and how do you make that happen?
I do believe that having a rapport with the subject is really important. A lot of photographers overlook this. It is as important as clicking a good picture. When I shoot celebrities, some are very shy and get intimidated in front of the camera. You really need to make them comfortable about what they are doing. As easy as it might sound to shoot a photograph, the hard part here is that the person will not know what they will look like. So from time to time, you have to make them feel like they are doing a great job. Being a people’s person, I think that’s where I shine.
I generally put good music, make a very calm environment; I don’t have too many people on sets as I don’t want too many distractions and don’t want my subject to leave the zone they are in. So I make it simple and hope they are enjoying the process.
Tell us about your first ever shoot experience.
My first shoot was with my sister Sakshi Girri; it was a fashion shoot. I thought it would be a good starting point for me to explore a new subject matter in photography. Before this, I was shooting architecture, lifestyle, and landscape. This was a complete departure from what I had learnt, as here lighting was very crucial. Lighting is important in general, but for fashion, it’s very precise; you have to know what you are doing to make it look good in clothing. I had no idea what I was doing and had no experience. I told my sister the same, and she was confident I would be able to pull it off. As the shoot went, I got comfortable. When I saw pictures, I was pretty happy. I told my sister to look and be brutally honest; to my surprise, she said, “Eshaan, you should not shoot fashion anymore; you are not good at it. You should go back to architecture and lifestyle.” That really surprised me. I was not prepared to handle that honest feedback (laughs). It really hurt my ego as that was the first time somebody told me I was not good at something. So I went back, and inside I knew this is what I am going to do now, just to prove to my sister that I can be a good fashion photographer. I started in 2017, it’s been a long time, and my sister doesn’t say the same thing anymore.
Are you someone who likes to get their idea of a photo through the viewer, or are you someone who likes to leave it to the viewer’s interpretation?
As far as viewership and audience are concerned, I like to show my vision rather than leave it to interpretation. I want to show my images in such a way that many people have not imagined it. That’s why I like a lot of control in my images. When I put something out, there’s an intention to it. I want to be perceived in a way that I had imagined in my head even before shooting.
In an interview with us, you advised photographers to not over-edit a picture. Where should the photographers draw the line and how should they find a balance?
When it comes to editing the skin, I have a neutral approach. I might say I lean towards the natural look. I don’t like the skin to be flawless, where I can’t see the pores or the details in the skin. A major part of my workflow involves retaining the texture of the skin. Photographers need to understand that people need to look at their natural self without removing too much.
It’s easy for anyone to go overboard with the editing process because I think what happens is they start becoming really creative and go that extra mile, but you have to be really careful about what you are doing because you might get carried away. So, what I do is between my editing, I take breaks, maybe for a cup of tea, I come back and I see the same image again, just to see I haven’t gone too far with the editing process. Basically, I like to retain the natural look. I really like texture and tones. I don’t like to change skin tones too much. Most of the times, I like warm tones for the skin. I might remove the blemishes and dark circles. But, to the most extent, I leave it as natural as possible, without looking like it’s fake.
You’ve done portraits, fashion shoots, product and even some architectural. What do you like working on the most and why?
I would have to say I love fashion the most because it was the most challenging for me. I took it up like a skill I need to hone. Fashion requires a lot of discipline, time, and practice. It’s not as easy as shooting a monument or your friend because there are many people involved in it, and you get a lot of feedback because of that. The feedback is constructive. I love people who critique my work; it allows me to reflect on my skill and keep improving.
Fashion for me is fun and challenging at the same time. From the lighting, concept, production to executing the shoot, it’s a very rewarding feeling. I never told myself I would become a fashion photographer, but it worked out naturally.
With Father's Day around the corner and you being a new dad, we want to know if fatherhood has changed you. And how?
Fatherhood showed me how to empathise with my parents, Once you’re a parent you realise why they used to say the things that they used to when you were a child. I respect them even more now than ever now becuase I’m a parent as well. – as told to Srivalli