Heidi: Tell us how the Kalki images came about? Was this a personal project?
Colston: I have worked with Kalki in the past; we have a close working relationship. She gives me a lot of space when we work together. She wanted to be photographed with her short hair and I was in town so we set up a shoot. She is someone that always gives to the project fearlessly. Yes, I would term it a personal project .
How do you know when a personal project is worth pursuing? do you have a journal of ideas?
I find inspiration in cinema and travel. Yes, I do maintain a journal with thoughts or images from my iphone (for light I might see reflections or locations. Even thoughts in note format and sometimes in the form of embarrassing sketches.
You have a category called The Boys are Alright. tell us about that category and specifically the Bappi Laheri images.
Since I shoot a lot of commercial and fashion work it can be predictable or part of a season trend, so I’m always looking for something I could photograph that is outside of that. This for me turned in to the “Boys are Alright” specifically men I have met with strong personalities or unique sense of style. Bappi Laheri for example, I had the opportunity to shoot a portrait of him for RollingStone INDIA. I was so amazed by his warmth and humor that I requested that we shoot a few more portraits for which he obliged he even let me into his recording studio which was in a time warp of sorts in the 80’s. It’s not often that I have the opportunity to get such close access, when I do, I make it a point to shoot a series for myself as a personal project, that could potentially be part of a book.
I know you’ve photographed Gaurav before, what was the most interesting or different about this shoot?
Gaurav is dynamic and interesting as a person , he has a unique dress sense and personality, he also loves to be photograph so it s always fun and exciting working with him. However, this shoot was with you and Vogue India acknowledging his commitment to sustainability as well as his new fragrance launch; I knew it would get us different images from the other images I have made of him, as we had a strong narrative and direction.
About the formats, I’m mostly a medium format person. I love what the large sensor can do to my image in terms of color texture and depth in an image, however that said, I love the flexibility a 35mm format gives me so I almost always shoot both formats, start with the medium format (Phase one IQ3 101 Trichromatic on P1Xf platform w / Schneider optics) I work around a few structured images, then shift to 35 mm and give my subject a bit of freedom to move because the 35 mm is faster to work with (I work on the Sony alpha A7R3 with g master optics & Zeiss optics), I also try and shoot some film when time permits that purely for the love of the medium and the intimacy the emulsion can have on the image.
How you straddle the Indian and the US market?
India the US and European markets are different and diverse markets I find keeping a focus on my people work has helped. In India I shoot a lot of fashion and celebrity /actors / cricketers / sportsperson the US market and Europe I normally get the calls for celebrity or location work. I find keep a balance on the kind of work is important. I think the key differences between the Indian and US market is that in India the agencies want the photographer to have a diverse style of work in his book, in the US I think it is critical to have a focused style and direction.
Do you have two different books that you share for those two markets?
Yes, I have two different presentations for Indian and international clients as they are two very different markets. In India the trend is for commercial large scale projects, with experience and a diversity in photographic style. While I think international markets want a defined voice and grammar in the visual direction. I am now looking strongly for an agent / agency in the US market to help bridge the markets.
You shoot both ad and editorial, what do you enjoy the most about your editorial work?
Yes I shoot Both commercial projects and Editorial , however Editorial is what drives me and keeps me alive creatively I enjoy it the most , I love shooting fashion stories more than anything. I find it to be creatively more satisfying , it is important to find a Creative Director and a fashion Director that understand your style and sensibility so that they can use your talent and
that in turn makes for an amazing fashion story or Editorial , its the freedom to visualize , imagine and create is what excites me the most about editorials .
How do you promote yourself?
I find the most effective way is to showcase your work in the right manner , I prefer to always print a book of my work to show creative directors , I also have my social media channels active showing my new work. I also follow interesting talent to work with on social media , Fashion directors , Creative Directors , stylist , Make up artiste , I see their perspective and mail them for a meeting , share with them my book and look at possibilities on upcoming projects .