Dynamic photographic duo Amit and Naroop. They are responsible for a variety of photographic campaigns including the brilliant #GetLippy campaign for the Eve Appeal. They have photographed a wealth of celebrities including Ashley Walters, Noel Clarke, Riz Ahmed, Skepta, Alex Zane, Rob Delaney the list goes on. They also direct music videos and films We at Those London Chicks are so pleased they have taken the time out of their busy schedule to chat with us.
Did you both have formal training, if so talk us through that?
We are both self-taught. Working together, in a way you could say we trained each other. In the early days, each shoot taught us something new. In photography the technical aspects aren’t that hard to learn. They can be taught. But the experience is what’s key. That can’t be taught. It needs to be earned. We calculated once that we have collated about 15,000 hours of shoot time in our careers. For the first few years, we were shooting every single day. Not all paid. But it’s how we learnt our craft. Practice. Practice. Practice.
How did your partnership come about?
We came together fourteen years ago when a musician friend of ours needed some photos taken. We both worked together on the shoot, loved the end result and from that point we formed Amit and Naroop. We never looked back. I guess we were both looking for an opportunity, so the timing was right.
How would you describe your brand?
We’re two ambitious guys who are all about delivering results, but we like to have fun doing it. Quality is everything. That is never compromised. We’re known for the upbeat atmosphere we create on set. There is no ego when we work. It’s all about the team. Everyone working together, enjoying themselves and producing outstanding work.
What, would you say sets you aside from other “photographic packages”?
There aren’t that many duos in the commercial photography industry, especially two Indian guys, so that immediately sets us apart. But one of the main things is the way we work. We leave ego at the door. It’s not about who gets the credit. Even though Amit clicks the camera, we are both just as involved in the creation of the work. This allows us to maintain a productive and successful relationship. Many duos have collapsed because ego gets in the way.
Did you have doubts or fears, if so what were they and how did you overcome them?
We never really paid ourselves a decent wage for about seven years. During that time, we literally scraped by, unknown to friends and family. We were scared. Was this business the right decision? Should we have got jobs? We stayed true to our gut. Followed our passion. We always acted as if we were successful, far before we were. Acting, talking, believing we were where we wanted to be, helped us to push through the hard times and eventually reach our goals.
I was lucking enough to have my photo taken by you Amit. You were immediately calming and encouraging, the results were fantastic and achieved in a relatively short space of time. Is that always the case, explain your process?
Yes, that is the way we work. Our job is to put the subject at ease, to build a relationship. We’ll spend more time speaking with the subject than shooting. Once the subject is comfortable with us, we know we’ll get great portraits. If the subject is nervous, it doesn’t matter how good the lighting is, the photograph won’t deliver what you want.
Which photographers inspire you and why?
Marco Grob, Mitch Jenkins and the Wade Brothers all inspire us. We love the style of work they do. Bold. Stylish lighting. Dramatic.
Your work has such an edgy, slick easily identifiable feel. Was that always the case or has your style evolved?
We developed our style through trial and error. Unlike most photographers who start shooting outdoors using natural light, we started in the studio, well Amit’s mum’s living room that we converted into a studio. We spent hours testing lights, playing with different soft boxes and reflectors until we became comfortable with them. Over the years, our style has become more refined as we moved from music photography to commercial advertising work, but the core of our style has stayed the same.
“Turban Tales”: your book. How did that come about and why?
Turbans and Tales is a book about one of our personal projects, the Sikh Project. From 2014 – 2016 we photographed 36 portraits of U.K Sikhs and 36 U.S Sikhs, focusing on the varying styles of the beard and turban. The book documents the journey of the project, how we did it, the exhibitions we held in London and New York, plus stories and portraits of all the subjects.
You are also public speakers. Tell us a bit about that?
We love to speak. It comes from our desire to inspire and motivate people to achieve their goals and passions. When people see us on stage, we believe we come across relatable. Two guys who had a dream and fought for it. We’re lucky we had each other to bounce off. Others don’t. They need that encouragement. To be told it’s possible. The world can be a very demoralising place, especially now that everyone shouts and scream about what they do on social media. People are so concerned about what others are doing, they rob themselves of the time they should be spending on themselves. Through our public speaking, we aim to try and spread positivity, promise and constructive advice that help people to reframe the way they think. Starve the ego. Feed the soul.
What advice would you give to an up and coming photographer hoping to get into the business?
Practice. Practice. Practice. Put the hours under your belt. Earn your experience. Don’t cheat yourself into thinking you are a brilliant photographer because you can curate a nice looking Instagram page and people like your photos. Get or pay for feedback from photographers who are where you want to be. If you can get them to mentor you, even better. Mentoring is different to assisting. You want their undivided time. Take them to lunch, somewhere nice, not Starbucks. Get them to give you an hour or so once a month. It will change your life. Also, if you are a portrait photographer, take some public speaking lessons. Confidence is everything in portrait photography. You need to be comfortable being the loudest, most confidence person in the room. When you are on set, you have to command it, to have presence and respect. You can’t hide behind your camera. You make the photograph, not the camera.
Thank you guys!
Interviewed by Karen Bryson
To view more of their incredible work visit: www.amitandnaroop.com