When Apresh Chavda accepted the invitation to conduct a day-long Master Class at SILK INSPIRE 2016, India’s first documentary wedding photography festival, he knew what he wanted to achieve: he wasn’t going to just hold a workshop for a few hours on a particular day, he was going to build a community.
If you talk to the photographers at the workshop you would know that Apresh, a British photographer of Indian origin, has succeeded in that mission. A private Facebook group he created many weeks before the actual workshop became a platform for participants to interact with Apresh and with each other.
Vivek Sequeira a Mangalore-based wedding photographer, who has been shooting weddings for almost two decades and has many accolades to his name, described the workshop as an “eye opener.” He discovering how much he still wanted to and had to learn. Vivek was impressed by how much work Apresh had put into the workshop, especially by the idea of the Facebook group, and how responsive Apresh was even before the festival began.
Apresh has shot numerous weddings in India for both Indian and clients from many different continents. “We had heard about foreign photographers, but not really about how they work and interact with clients,” Vivek said. Apresh was able to share his insights about handling clients and place it in the Indian context, which made the advice relatable for many of the attendees.
To give the participants a taste of the real deal the SILK INSPIRE team invited a soon-to-be married couple to be subjects during the session. Apresh produced a series of gorgeous photographs featuring them during the workshop. His favourite one is of the couple silhouetted against a yellow wall. It was an amazing experience and a welcome break from the hectic preparations for the marriage, Jananii Senthil, the bride-to-be, said. “It was alot of fun,” she added, “I loved the photos.” Jananii revealed that the image of their silhouette on the yellow wall was also her partner’s favourite photo from the day.
“The best part of the workshop was seeing a spark in people’s eyes,” Apresh said, “everyone was hungry to learn.” The photographer was so invested in the mentoring process that even the day after the workshop Apresh was reviewing portfolios of photographers at the festival free of charge on his own time.
And the learning was not a one-way process, not only did he review other people’s work, the British photographer had some of the participants provide feedback on his work. Despite being an established figure in the industry Apresh said that he always wants to keep learning and growing. There was a feeling that they were part of something special and the whole festival seemed to “uplift and inspire” all the participants.
“I would love to be back,” Apresh said. He added that he wanted to reconnect with the participants of his workshop at SILK INSPIRE 2017 and to see how his mentees have evolved. He is already in touch with them through the Facebook group. “We are still showcasing our work, giving feedback and suggestions on the Facebook group,” Vivek said. And so the relationship continues. It was not a one-day fling, the master class was more like the start of a partnership for life for the photographers, just like the weddings they seek to capture.
For those who are hungry to learn and looking for inspiration, advice, tips and portfolio reviews, Apresh will be launching his One2One mentoring sessions soon. Follow him on Instagram.
Watch out for next week’s post where we try to make sense of the news about Fujifilm X-series mirrorless cameras future in India.