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Shreeya Bohra

 

Goa,

India  

Shreeya Bohra, a photographer, art director and a designer. I was born in KGF (Kolar Gold Fields), raised in Bangalore and currently residing in Goa. At a young age I knew I was meant for the arts and performance, my whole life built towards it. Currently, my focus is on personal photographic projects and building my design brand - BOHRA, that repurposes textile fodder and vintage sarees into seasonless genderfluid clothing, produced in limited batches.

Portrait of Toshada
Sunset over beach in Maui, Hawaiii

What is photography to you?

Photography is now beyond passion. Over the past nine years, it has evolved from being a creative outlet to an integral aspect of how I navigate the world. It's not just about making beautiful images; it's about storytelling, connecting with people, archiving my life and interactions. It is a visual journal that has become essential to how I function. It’s like waking up and taking a shower.
 

How did you get started in Photography?

My journey began when I was about eight/nine and  took my first few photographs using my Dad’s YASHICA film camera on school tours and at family weddings. They were largely forts, animals we visited at the zoo and my sisters photographed after being styled to head out. I even drew, painted and wrote stories at the time. Little did I know it would all converge to shape me as an artist.

Beach closeup
bnw Landscape

What impact do you think your childhood has on your photography?

Growing up in KGF (Kolar Gold Fields), a town with limited technology like televisions and phones, I spent most of my days outdoors. Most hours of the day were spent on the streets and terraces- playing, painting, dancing. My mother has a keen interest in visual and performing arts and naturally, I was encouraged to participate and learn as much as I could.


When I moved to the city as a teen, it was a cultural shock. This world was starkly different from what I had called home. This might have been the first tipping point. I started watching foreign language movies, wrote short stories, sketches were now extremely complex biology diagrams and I daydreamed scenes to the very last detail like the colour of the garment and the wall even. I believe we are a culmination of all our experiences and it influences our artistic language, the way we see and express. 

Please tell us about your process and vision.​

My photographic sensibilities are tickled primarily in natural light. Each hour of the day poses a unique method to study and master. Most of my work is photographed in natural light, using available/minimal resources, occasionally employing a reflector, collaborating with fellow artists, sketching out possibilities of a frame only to throw it all out and chase the light. I always say the best photographs ever made are the ‘in-betweens, stumbling upon serendipitous moments.


My father-in-law said, ‘One must be like salt, to diffuse into anything and enhance the flavour of everything’. It is befitting in photography as well. To blend in or be inconspicuous and observe from a distance, until I find that moment that speaks to me, that speaks ‘me’ and I photograph a part of myself in that. 

Sunset over beach in Maui, Hawaiii
Sunset over beach in Maui, Hawaiii

What challenges do you face as an artist?

Like many artists, I grapple with periods of inspiration. The pressure to create frequently and produce a substantial volume of work can be overwhelming, particularly in the era of the internet, where content is incessantly consumed. Financial constraints pose another challenge, limiting my ability to pursue projects, experiment, or venture into new creative territories.

Sri Laxmi
Boots
Sunset over beach in Maui, Hawaiii

How do you overcome periods of low motivation or creative ruts?

 

I pause. I don't lift my camera for days at times. I dance it off, design and explore other mediums of creative expressions (I design clothes and make collages). Revisiting old photos sometimes is a reminder of the joy it brings. The beach is an endless source of comfort and a reminder of abundance (having lived in Goa for over a year now). None of it promises to bring you out of the rut but,help me ease back into my artistic flow.

What inspires you the most?

It is challenging to concise it to one or few precise moments. The way I see, think and express has shapeshifted over the years and will continue to do so. Often, it is the places and people I encounter that ignites my creative spark. Lately, it is merely to look in plain sight. Everything we miss and underappreciate - patterns and textures, colours, the interplay of light on varied surfaces, the ripples of water and sand, the shadows forming moving images, simple sights like my mother’s claypots or even the passersby basking in the evening’s golden sun.


I am inherently inclined towards design and fashion. Most of my commercial works are art directed and styled by me. There’s a subconscious process to envision the streets and different cultural settings as backdrop to fashion productions. It's akin to seeing everyday objects through the eyes of an art director, where everything has the potential to be part of a visually compelling narrative.

What gears do you generally use? What is your ideal piece of gear and why?

I primarily work with a Canon 5D Mark III paired with a 50mm f/1.4 lens, and an iPhone 13 Pro. While high-quality equipment certainly enhances the technical aspects of photography, I firmly believe that the essence of a photograph lies in the artist's vision and intent. The choice of gear may vary according to the demands of a project or the specific conditions I'm working in. I don't hold any particular piece of equipment as an ideal; it's all about the creative synergy between the artist and their tools.

Tell us about a photo you’re proud of.

parde mein rehne do

Ah! I must admit that I'm the kind of person who has a fleeting relationship with my own work. There are moments when I'll appreciate a photo, but more often than not, you'll find me furious and disheartened with my past collections. I'm infamously indecisive, and it's not uncommon for me to see the same photographs in a new light on rare occasions.


Yet, in recent history. ‘Parde mein rehne do’ has been one of my favourites. This photograph was made in passing, unchoreographed and it all fell in place rather magically. The light, the message, the sense of urgency it presents. In many ways it launched my mind into documentary photography and exploring the female gaze in the streets and in art

How would you define photographic success?

Like any other medium of art, for me it is when a photograph helps the viewer to understand what it is to be human. While fame and money can be a part of it, the purpose is to be honest with myself and my work. What may follow as success - be it gallery exhibits and better work opportunities - will merely be moments of gratitude and a chance to excel.

What do you think the future of photography is?

It is not ‘as is’ any more but, what it can be.
With AI already gaining momentum, I believe photography as a term is evolving into alt mediums of image making. It is like painting with technology and the possibilities are unhinged. As much as I’d like the dogmas of photography to remain traditional and for us to portray it in genius ways, the future is inclined to packaging this artform as a tech-based canvas of ideas, design and limitless otherworldly visuals. 

Image copyrights © Shreeya Bohra 

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