With his shy, infectious smile and a stubbly black beard, photographer Shreyans Dungarwal’s on-set energy is that of an offbeat persona that brings life to an image. As a frequent contributor to You & I and other celebrities and brands, the 24-year-old has pioneered a new type of fashion photography. Starting his adventures in the field at the age of 18, today there is startling clarity and an emotional frankness to his work– a rarity nowadays. You & I caught up with Shreyans to talk about his love of photography, and what it’s like to make it in this challenging industry.
What sparked your interest in photography?
Well, to be honest, my first focus was cinema. In 2011, I invested in a camera and started making shorts. Unfortunately, the films didn’t turn out so well. But that didn’t stop me. I wanted to try something different, something that would touch me intellectually and keep me interested. As a result of filmmaking, working with cameras and seeing how they operate, I fell in love with photography. I worked as a photographer with an organisation called CCP (Curtain Call Productions) to build a portfolio which helped me get bigger and bigger clients. It happened rather quickly, but then it’s definitely a mix of both experience and learning.
What is it that appeals to you most about photography?
I like to capture the moment – like, if you’re talking to someone, and I steal a moment right in between. So the in-between phases are visually fascinating to me. You see... there are always moments. I believe photography gives you the opportunity to use your creativity and everything you are to say something about, and be part of the world around you. It’s a way to express your point of view, only through a still photo. I love it.
What is your ethos and approach as a photographer?
My ethos is simple. I am a hardworker, so I want to continue learning on a daily basis and be able to give whatever is expected of me. I make sure the lighting, props, and the creativity that goes into the pictures come naturally to me. Therefore, being alert about everything around me is really significant to my photographic process.
How do you continue improving your work?
I get bored easily, so it’s really important to create work that is interesting to me. Photography is definitely a mix of experience and learning, so I guess I am still very curious when it comes to that. I open myself to new experiences that will allow me to search out new ways of capturing what I see, the essence of that particular moment. Also, my family and close friends are my biggest critics. They often give me a perspective that I may be lacking.
Do you have a subject that you find exciting to photograph again and again?
Well, beauty is everywhere. I just like to admire things, places and faces that convey all of their beauty and complexity.
Is there anyone you wish to photograph?
It must be very challenging to establish yourself in such a competitive field. What advice do you have for aspiring photographers?
It’s not just photography. As in any other industry, the competition will be fierce, so the only way you can get noticed is to create interesting work on a consistent basis. One should aim to build a strong portfolio and, eventually, work starts looking for you!
Do you have any specific goals on what you want to do from here on out?
To be honest with you, I can’t wait to do another short film. I guess things have changed, and I now have the ability to see the person in front of me. I discovered that directing has opened up my mind to different ways to conceive a story. And besides, being incredibly detailed is interesting to me. – as told to Anisha