Nepalese Australian portrait and fashion photographer Nirish Shakya a.k.a. @nizzah uses his camera as a tool for discovering people's lives, thoughts and emotions. During his travels and career path he has built a strong portfolio of beautiful imagery that speak for themselves. In our exclusive interview with the London-based photographer we wanted to learn more about his love for photography and travelling. Read more below!
What’s your story?
I'm a Nepalese Australian photographer who fell in love with photography through travel and meeting new people.
How did you decide you want to become a photographer?
It wasn't something I woke one day and decided on. It has been an organically growing and evolving passion for me. But there are some key moments during my travels which reinforced my interest in photographing the people and places I come across. One of them was my trip to Nepal back in 2013 when my camera helped me see my native country with a fresh perspective. I saw beauty hidden within the hardship and poverty and things that usually go unnoticed. I still remember my first portrait and my first landscape shots that made me take more photographs. The portrait I took was that of my uncle and aunty’s maid in Nepal. Usually, she would’ve gone unnoticed but when I looked back at her portrait, I could see the story of her life hidden behind her smile and the hardships she has been through.
Mankumari (2013) by Nirish Shakya
During the same trip, I photographed some amazing places in Nepal.
Sunrise over the Annapurna range as seen from Sarangkot Hill (2013) by Nirish Shakya
Tell us more about your work. Which inspiring people and places have you discovered through your job?
During my travels, I definitely found myself gravitated towards photographing people within their environmental context. I went to Tenerife last year to shoot some local agency models (and my wife) in Tenerife’s breathtaking landscapes. I’m grateful that photography allows me to meet so many new people. I recently photographed a Syrian owner of a kebab shop in his shop and a Nepalese Buddhist monk in his London house. Each of them had their own unique story of their journeys which led them to London.
Women in Bhaktapur, Nepal (2013) by Nirish Shakya
Who or what inspires your work?
I’m currently admiring the works of Mary Ellen Mark who’s created some iconic images of people and their surroundings.
Burning Ghat, Benares, India, 1989 by Mary Ellen Mark
I’ve recently come across the work of a young British photographer, Hollie Fernando, who shoots quirky and contemplative travel portraits.
What is the most important part for you when it comes to capturing moments?
For me, it’s about constantly learning how to photograph an interpretation of what I see, not just illustrating it. I truly believe that if you, as a photographer, can’t feel anything from what you’re photographing, you can’t expect the viewer to feel much either.
Ale in Playa de Benijo (2018) by Nirish Shakya
Who are you outside of the photography world?
I’m also a UX Designer, which means I solve problems and make things easier to use through human-centred design.
What comes to your mind thinking of “Discovery Redefined”?
For me, it’s about discovering things your own way, rather than from someone else. There are so many books you can read or videos you can watch to discover new things around the world but you haven’t truly discovered something if you haven’t discovered it yourself. Now that doesn’t mean you have to cross oceans to be the first person on a new island. You can even discover so many stories just like walking into your local family owned, seemingly mundane, corner store and talking to people.
A Girl Lost in the Desert, El Teide (2018) by Nirish Shakya
How does a watch play a role in your busy lifestyle?
I never stopped wearing a watch even when it started becoming trendy to just pull out your fancy new smartphone to check the time. Every watch I’ve ever owned has had a story behind it - whether that’s a gift from an aunty’s first overseas trip, my parents’ joy during my graduation or my wife and my first trip together. We live in a fast-paced world where time is money. But my watches act as reminders of what’s really important in life.
When do you have your #slowmoment?
I practice Vipassana meditation which helps me learn to be more aware of the present moment and my subconscious reactions to it. I don’t like the idea of having to wait for the next big holiday to slow down. I think we should be deliberating incorporating slow moments in our lives every day.
The Waiting Chair (2018) by Nirish Shakya
What exciting things are next up
I’m shooting for a sunglasses brand soon which I’m super excited about. We’re also going back home to Australia later this year to visit family and take some more pictures!
Want to hear more?
Join us at our studio in Covent Garden and meet Nirish during our inspirational photography workshop and walk this August. Click here to show your interest for the event!