My Gadget Life - Rohan Shrestha

The young turk tells us about his search for the perfect underwater camera, his iPhone obsession and more…

I took up photography when I was18 years old, but I think I got serious about it when i was 24

My first break was an unpaid gig with Gladrags. I worked two 13 hour days consecutively and shoot 40-odd models, and considering I had never worked before in my life, it was hard.

I love shooting real people. I’ve just finished working on an awareness campaign with CPA (Cancer Patients Association). Shooting real people is more fun it’s not as pose-y and I even worked in Nepal during the earthquake I love capturing emotions.

I’m an iPhone addict. Just got myself the X. Besides this, I’m not so phone-friendly, I just take a lot of pictures. Not much of a gadget fanatic either, but I’m addicted to cameras.  

I have a Leica that I shoot street with, I recently upgraded to a Fuji X-T2. It’s this vintage edition camera which I’ve fallen in love with. I shoot professionally on a Canon Mark IV. I have a Hasselblad as well, and I shoot underwater with a Sony.

I like experimenting with my cameras because it just sticks differently... I don’t like shooting with the Canon underwater, for instance, the Sony is much faster…

EF 85 f1.2L II USM is my favourite lens in the world. The 56mm Fuji lens is just as good, I would say…

I’m most comfortable with Canon because I’ve been using it for many years. I moved to Fuji about five months ago… I started doing a lot of my travel work with Fuji but I did shoot a couple of covers as well and I really liked the colours… it’s completely different from the Canon.

I was studying Analog photography at New York last summer, specifically, I was studying the Tintype photography. It was really fun and it took a while because you have to work hard on chemical development… being back into the dark room… it’s something i did when I was a kid, with my dad (Rajesh Shrestha) and it brought back a lot of memories. When you’re shooting tintype, it’s so different from film and Analog…

Shooting Tintype is so different from shooting on film… the Tintype camera was 1860’s… the giant boxes, shoot on Aluminium and stuff like that… It’s pretty interesting. I actually wanted to bring that process back to India but the problem is that to get all the material, I’ll have to constantly travel to the States. Even within the States, you don’t get that equipment everywhere… it’s a huge commitment and massive investments as well. Also the studio you have to have is very specific for Tintype…

I’d want to own the new iMac… i’m addicted to work stuff… i’m kinda boring that way.

I’d like to invent an underwater camera which would have a flash that actually worked! I find it highly irritating when i shoot underwater and the flash doesn’t work. Firstly, you have to get this whole new contraption and then have a flash head… by the time you get neutral buoyancy underwater, the fish have gone away… I’d certainly try and figure out an easier way to shoot underwater. That’s my current obsession.

I’d been talking to my dad about starting a photography school for a while, because we come from a legacy of photographers from the country and it’s a big responsibility to start a school, so I wasn’t really sure. I’m young, and I don’t have the time to commit completely and leaving my work behind. It just happened that my friend Varun, who started Leap India was telling me about how he was bringing down this makeup school MUD and they had this extra space which they didn’t know what to do with, and that’s how I came to check out the space. I told him this can’t be for a full-fledged photography school, but we can start with small workshops… that’s how the idea came into existence…

I want to be selective about the batches I pick… I want to address a group of like minded people… even if just for the basics class… maybe the same age group… it’s more of an education on my style of photography and the commercial aspect on how we work as photographers in a business, which is very important. I feel that a lot of photographers come in with a serious amount of talent and not know what to do with it. There’s no direction or guidance… when I was younger, that’s what I looked for the most. These days it’s very easy to go on YouTube and look for lighting techniques - that’s not the hard part anymore. It’s the personal guidance on how to approach your job, people, how you shoot… which make such a big difference. Social Media, for instance, has totally blown up. Instagram has changed photography as we know it.  

I’m doing this for the love of photography, not just to make money. There will be a selection process in place for people who apply for my workshops... Each batch won’t be bigger than 5-6 people. I have a responsibility and I want to give them the best knowledge. I’ll be focussing on fashion, beauty and commercial photography for now.

Every photographer has a different work ethic, different style of working… that’s why I’m going to have a lot of guest lectures from different photographers… it just gives the kids a more rounded education… it’ll be exciting for the kids to listen to what other photographers have to offer.

Suresh Natrajan is my favourite photographer… I’m not only a huge fan of him as a  photographer, but also of him as a guy in general. He is multi-talented.