What Does It Take To Be An: Event Photographer with Dipit Raz
PHOTO: BIBHAS M. SUWAL
A drummer, inspired by his father with a love for music, Dipit Raz is currently making headlines in the Nepalese metal scene as one of the most popular concert photographer in the capital. A skilled and passionate photographer who took concert photography to a whole new level, Dipit’s work is a compelling emotion of passion and a celebration of artists and audience connected to the world of music in very concrete and intriguing ways. His photographs struck a chord with everyone seeking to cling on to the idea of something more energetic free from humdrums of other concert photographers. When not shooting concerts, he is busy directing videos, designing and assisting bands with their sound-checks.
Meanwhile, TNM caught up with the lively Dipit Raz who is now determined to make himself a big name in the event scene as the photographer you have to book. Excerpts:
1) How did you get into photography? Was event photography your foray right from the start or did you find your footing later on in your career?
I grew up ruffling through a closet full of photographs my father had taken at different parts of the world. He was a photo enthusiast too. That’s where it started; that’s when I started of dreaming of exploring the world through photography. My dream started to become reality when I stayed with him in a scenic city of Pokhara where I was free all day to travel around. I used to walk everywhere with a digital camera and click pictures all day around Pokhara and get home for dinner and work on pictures all night long in his office. That’s how I started exploring photography.
And because I was also into music, there rarely was a gig where I wasn’t there with my camera. I always get my kicks at live music events and that’s where I started photography. The first concert I visited was back in 2003/2004 with my camera where I tried to get a few shots with my 2MP digital camera.
2) Do you remember your first paid job? How long did it take to be offered one?
Actually, it was only the third event of my life when I was entrusted as a professional photographer. As I recall, it was the Silence Festival II (headlined by VADER) where I was offered with a good deal which motivated me to further my career in photography.
3) How did you get from being an aspiring photographer to actually doing it full time, for a living?
When I started, it was a mere interest driven hobby for me. After a few events and an overwhelming response, I was called by Mr. Salim Akhtar from Silence Entertainment in Kathmandu. He is one of the most influential people to me who helped me groom in my later days of photography. We had great talks, that and his companionship helped me become a better professional.
After being an event photographer and hired for a few events, Silence Entertainment became home to me which meant non-stop events, concerts, videos and music which started to yield me really good money; sufficient to make a living.
Silence was also home for almost all the underground and metal bands in those days. And, with Tone Music Store sharing the same compound, it was an essential platform for meeting new clients and different bands who came by.
4)How do you get the subject or event that is in front of the camera onto the film just the way you want?
In event photography, you either grab the opportunity to capture a moment or just see it slip by. We rarely have second chances. The challenge itself is enthralling.
When I go to any event, I study the place well. For me the bonus point is being a musician, I can predict key moments that are coming up. It makes things much easier in terms of determining which angle to take and what to focus on.
5) Did you go through a certain course or training program to become a photographer?
I never had any course or training on photography. I started professional photography with a DSLR that I borrowed from a very good friend. I tried out all the settings to learn what each one did to the picture. It took me over two years to run like this until I owned my camera which I bought after two years of professional service.
6) What technology/software/camera gear do you use?
The gears that I am currently using are the
Canon 5d mk iii
Canon 14mm fish eye
Canon 50mm 1.4
Canon 70-200 f2.8
Canon 16-35 f 2.8
GoPro Hero 3
Adobe Photoshop and Adobe Premier pro the main software that I have been using these days.
7)Who inspires you and your style? How did they influence your style and thinking?
There wasn’t a particular person who inspired me because when I started out I was clicking away with a camera and learning things on my own. And because of this I wasn’t tied down to the orthodox style of photography. When I started photography there were barely a handful of people who would use a flash. Using flash photography in events isn’t exactly considered a good thing. But when I started blending in flash in the pictures without having much of the flash light in the picture, it became a style.
It is useful too because none of the details or ambience would be lost but the picture would be perfectly lit. And, now I see almost all of the upcoming photographers, using the same style during concerts and events.
I would say the band playing at an event, the ambience, the vibes, and the energy that they pass to the crowd are what inspire me. I feed off of the energy which transcends onto my photographs. It’s like a challenge for me to step up to their performance and energy level.
It’s the same for all events. I don’t see myself in boring events clicking the same bunch of people over and over again just to get paid.
8) Is photography an inborn talent or can it be acquired through practice and education?
Personally, I would say it’s a mix of both. But, having said that, inborn talent is a visionary advantage, other things you can learn through Google, or YouTube. But, to be a good photographer we have to plan our shots and have a vision for what it’s going to be like and how it will look post processing and whether it will be necessary. A proper sense of wonder and imagination is what we acquire at birth. We can’t learn about it and that’s how pictures from same events differ from each other. Finding superior angles and the vision of the final shot is inborn.
9) What would you say is the most difficult thing about being a photographer in Nepal? How good of a career choice is it?
The most difficult thing about being a photographer in Nepal right now would be the limited number of camera stores, meager number of photographers, and the number of free Facebook pages.
It seems like everyone is a photographer. It has become fashionable to hire photographers to every local bar, events, weddings. It doesn’t make much sense though, most of the people just want someone strutting around with a DSLR, while they rarely care about the result.
They don’t mind over exposed pictures full of high intensity flash light right in your face, or a picture with no proper orientation and framing. You just want a photographer, not a proper photo. And this is when all the comparisons start, some say so-and-so is doing this at lower rates or even for free. But then it’s also important to keep in mind the end results.
It’s terrible when the organizers put on a wry smile and weasel out of paying up. I’ve heard the “Sorry, ticket sales didn’t go as expected” speech several times.
I would say ‘go with the quality, if not, your Smartphone can also give you the same thing as you would get by hiring a person without photographic knowledge’.
The most current trend in Nepal is to have your own small circle or small coterie. Hype it up, tag random people, present yourself as the top person in the business, have a few friends, make a few pages, give each other random compliments and titles. It’s all about shamelessly blowing your own trumpet.
I would personally say, there is a real good pay if you find the right clients who are actually looking for quality and are not content with anything simple and small. Luckily for me, I have been working with the most reputed event managers, bands and organizers, so there is no turning back right now. It has been good.
10) What 5 characteristics would you say should a successful photographer have?
-Sense of wonder and imagination
11) Do you have a dream project that you would like to work on? Or event you would like to photograph?
I am currently working on a project (with a few photographers in Bangkok), which is the biggest work I have had till date. Apart than that, I would love to shoot the Knotfest and Wacken events.
Some of his work: