"I feel I am able to empathise and connect with people and that is where I draw a lot of inspiration from for most of my work". From writing to photography, art directing and styling, there's nothing Rhea Gupte can't do.
You your work in different categories - fashion, pet projects, people, and more - which one began as your initial vision and what inspired the others?
My love for imagery overall, began with fashion. Before taking up photography, I was more into styling and creative direction, which is something I still do, so being exposed to a lot of fashion photography led to my growth in terms of compositions, aesthetic, colour balance and such. As a photographer, I started off with being drawn to travel photography and self-portraiture. By practising in these two categories, I developed confidence in being a photographer and simply learning how to use the camera. Once I had that, I moved to creating work in fashion which I already had a lot of experience in by playing different roles away from the lens. As I started travelling more, I also began volunteering and that's what inspired me to start shooting portraits of people and documenting subjects in front of me. These were followed by more interests like doing self-initiated projects and also creating digital artworks.
Are their any particular individuals/objects that inspire your vision? I think emotions and conversations inspire me the most. I am mindful of these in my day to day life when I meet people or even while consuming all sorts of content like films, writing, stories, I feel I am able to empathise and connect with people and that is where I draw a lot of inspiration from for most of my work.
You take over your projects from all angles with writing, photographing, art directing and styling. How did the opportunity come about for your to dip your feet in all the creative pools? I feel it was a gradual progression of a conscious effort to develop one skill after another. I have been writing since I was very young and I feel it's something that comes naturally to me and from the heart. However, it is a muscle and it's very important to practise to develop any skill. So I write a lot even if a lot of it is just for myself. It makes me feel peaceful to put down my thoughts and these thoughts often lead to more abstract ideas for visuals. Styling, art direction, consultancy and creative direction started hand-in-hand as they are so interconnected. I took these up as a freelancer as soon as I graduated from college.
After working on several projects in this capacity, I was keen to have my vision converted to photographs exactly how I saw them, with complete creative freedom. In order to achieve that, I took up photography. I am so glad I did, as I feel it is something I would love to do for the rest of my life. I am now also developing my skills in design and that greatly helps me with creative direction as I can communicate better and also present my work in interesting ways. I feel these opportunities were something I carved for myself over time by developing my portfolio in them. Basically I love to create and anything that allows me to do that, I want to learn and get better at. So next on my list are 3D softwares, animation, game design to name a few.
What have been some of your most exciting collaborations as of yet? I think my Ethical Threads series is one of my favourite projects from the ones I have published. I started it off as a self-initiated project, but I am now continuing it as a commission with a slow fashion e-commerce website called IKKIVI. The project started when I became aware about the reality of the fashion industry and how polluting and terrible for the environment fast fashion is. So I wanted to turn the spotlight on ethical and slow fashion designers by creating surreal imagery for their clothing and having conversations with them about their production processes and ethos. It is an ongoing series and I am hoping to develop it a lot further both aesthetically and in the impact it can have in terms of spreading the word.
Each work of yours tells a different story - such as 'wandering mind' and 'time capsule' - how do you create the concept? Does it start off as a story and then photography? Or does your photography speak to you? With travel photography, I go into a space with no preconceived ideas of what I want to create. I simply stay observant and shoot whatever I find intriguing, fascinating, meaningful or even aesthetically pleasing. So in these cases, the story forms after the images are put together and what they communicate to me. However, with my art series, I go into them with very specific ideas of the concept as well as the composition of the images. So it's a lot more thought out and deliberate.
Where can we expect to see more of your work in the future? I have set a goal for myself to update my online portfolio before the end of this month. So hopefully I succeed in that and people are able to see all of my work on www.rheagupte.com right upto my very latest projects. I am planning to keep it updated throughout with all my latest creative adventures and learnings. :)
Finally, what is your favourite type of cake?
This is a tough one. I'm going to say pineapple. ^_^