Suave is run by a team of two sisters and on our journey, we've met some amazing women who have supported us, uplifted us and inspired us. One of the women crucial to our brand's success has been Upahar Biswas. Upahar has been our photographer right from the early days. With her petite frame, it is easy to forget that the woman inside is power-packed and extremely talented. But as soon as she is behind the camera and shows you test shots, you know you're in august company.
Upahar has been instrumental in ideating every collection's aesthetics and presentation. We've been dying to show the world who she is as a person, and when we proposed a Q&A, she enthusiastically agreed. As is much her style, she went the extra mile and shot a campaign wearing a custom made Suave dress.
Here's bringing you our conversation with Upahar -
Tell us a little about Upahar, the person.
She is quite clumsy and disorganized, a procrastinator much as opposed to her extremely neat and clean images. A free spirited, impulsive person who love challenges and find joy in smaller things than in extravagance. This person is however very different from the professional photographer people know of.
How did you foray into photography? When and how did you decide to make it your career?
I didn't plan on it. I always had an inclination for art and creativity, far away from main stream academics. I joined St. Xavier's college with this course called Bachelor of Multimedia. In the first photography assignment, I did fairly well and knew this could be one thing I can fall back on. Instant confidence, zeal to do better and an eye for originality has brought me here, where I don't have a single off day. I am either shooting or upgrading myself for the next shoot.
The number of female fashion photographers is slowly growing. Did you face any challenges by virtue of your gender?
I am so happy to see the growth in numbers of female photographers. Coming to sexism, yes, I have been a victim of the same. First time I felt it was when I was the only female photographer in a panel of 20 odd press photographers. I was made to feel physically weak as a woman. And in a recent scenario, I was again made to feel weak, but this time not just physically, also mentally and technologically, when a client doubted my capability against a male photographer's. Apart from the constant tug-of-war of proving myself and being taken seriously, I am taking one step each day to address these issues. For eg. if I ever feel someone being disrespectful towards me because of my gender, I question why.
Your campaigns very often tell a story. Can you tell us a little about your ideating process?
Oh! I love everything with a small introduction and conclusion. I love stories, therefore I try to make my photos look a lot more than just good looking images. There's always a difference between a photo and a photo that makes you feel a certain way. Given the scope, I will always create the latter. So, the process starts from listening. When I am hired for a commercial shoot, I ask my clients their source of inspiration. Every creation has a back story. I further nurture that, run wild in my imagination and yes, we create something special together. To bring it out aloud to the world in the form of imagery is what I take pride in.
What would you say gives you an edge over other photographers in the industry?
We as individuals evolve in different situations. The background we have grown up in, the stories we heard before us make a huge impact on shaping the person we are today. Choices we make towards music, movie, story books sets the difference. I will completely give it to my growing up in different places and open-mindedness to accept more.
Your industry is a competitive one. What suggestions would you offer to budding fashion photographers?
My advice for budding fashion photographers will be to set out. Work hard, chase your success aggressively and honestly. Its very important to have our personal style of art, stick to it and be true to your viewers.
You're always behind the camera, shooting stylish garments on others. What is your personal style like?
Given the chance, I could spend my life in joggers. That's what I am found in most of the times. But while dressing up, I will reach out for something comfortable and classy.
Check Upahar's work on her Instagram handle @upahar_biswas.