Kavi Shah: Candid Stories

Sunetra Senior Wednesday 06th May 2020 09:57 EDT

Kavi has a simple yet refreshingly honest style. Her candid photography consists of family, individual and interpersonal shots, striking in their lucid emotion and subtle luminosity. Her work might radiantly belie a subject’s profession, or an emotional bond shared between two people, or simply a certain mood at a significant moment in time. “I actually started out by taking a photograph of my friend’s newborn baby”, she told us. From there, the bookings flowed. “I seemed to have a knack for lifestyle photography. I enjoy capturing the specific everyday sentiments: that special bond between a mother and her child, a daughter’s relationship with her father as she giggles.” Kavi’s single subject shots also powerfully relay the client’s personality while group photographs joyfully explore the dynamics between the people pictured. She added: “I’ve grown my portfolio through family photography for which I still receive the most bookings! These precious moments are fleeting so it’s important to be able to keep them in some way: these snaps will go up on people’s walls, becoming a tangible part of their personal history. You can remember someone as a child or commemorate a landmark achievement.”

Interestingly, Kavi’s background is in the writerly world of journalism. She has written news for Metro, worked for The Telegraph as a sub-editor and commissioning editor, reviewed restaurants for the trendy lifestyle magazine, Time Out London, as well as copywriting for companies and brands. “I often get commissioned to write ‘case studies’. This is where you cover a person’s story, perhaps focussing on a defining event, to give them a voice. It’s the same drive for my photography. I love working with natural energy to directly communicate a message minus the fluff. I enjoy helping others better express themselves.” Being attentive and allowing the subject to speak for themselves then, Kavi achieves an altogether purer meaning.

When building a brand, Kavi emphasised the pivotal role of online presence in not just getting your work out there but also boosting an authentic personal account. “As well as managing my professional work, I have a blog, The Curious Londoner. It contains pictures from my wanderings which people have enjoyed. It’s been important to regularly upload shareable material that will excite others as it excites you! It’s crucial to keep that consistent too. You need to make a digital impact so that people can find you.” In short, people are drawn to articles where they can feel a genuine passion which resonates with them. And so, rising through her loyal yet creative approach, Kavi demonstrates that quality storytelling is as much about being able to present a sensitive context as it is creating strong content. This is what determines a successful piece over a mediocre one.

“I remember growing up with photo albums in the house,” she aptly concluded. “As a child, my father taught me that framing is the most important concept in photography. This hones the focus on a particular subject. You might crop out people in the background or close in on the face. Taking a shot from higher up or lower down also makes a huge difference. You can crucially affect the mood.” As well as, ultimately, the clarity with which a viewer discerns a certain reality.

What do you want to do with your photography in the future?

I get commissions for travel writing within my journalistic career so it would be great to be able to take photos of places alongside writing about them: I’m interested in travel photography and moving to landscape shots. People have enjoyed hearing about places I’ve visited and often ask for recommendations. I’d also like to dabble in food photography, perhaps for restaurants.

What tips do you have for boosting online presence?

I try to make content that’s positive and unique to each social platform. I simply want to be able to help, amuse or inspire people. That naturally attracts people who don’t think twice to share! I also post a lot of my work online (both my photography and my writing work) so people can see what I’m up to – this helps to attract new clients too.

You now freelance as a photographer and writer, do you have any advice for anyone considering going into either of these industries?

Lots! In terms of journalism, a relevant course helps, but more important than that, get lots of work experience under your belt and don’t be afraid to chase contacts. I’ve cold called editors asking if they needed anything done. Be ahead of the game – editors want to know what’s new or trendy in the world. Try to stand out through your work ethic: for example, if you can make a deadline earlier, do it! There are not as many people from ethnic minority backgrounds in the national newspaper workforce as there could be, but don’t let that deter you.

When it comes to photography, learn about your camera first and foremost. I took courses with the London School of Photography to learn about the settings and technical elements, before learning about photo editing using Adobe Lightroom and Photoshop as it’s such an important part of the process. If there’s ever anything you’re stuck on, check on YouTube as there are many photographers giving useful advice, or reach out to a fellow photographer with a question. Build up your portfolio by taking photographs of family and friends, and create an online presence, through Twitter, Facebook, Instagram or a website, where you can share your work and get yourself noticed. Keep going, being you.

W: www.facebook.com/photographybykavi / www.thecuriouslondoner.com

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