Ash Gupta – The Man Behind the Lens

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By a Correspondent

Los Angeles based photographer, Ash Gupta, has snapped a string of high profile individuals like Ben Affleck, Jennifer Lawrence, Carmen Electra, Elizabeth Shue, Steven Seagal, Dane Cook, Gulshan Grover, Preity Zinta, Mallika Sherawat and Director Davis Guggenheim to name a few. Famous musicians like Chayanne, James Kaufman, Fred Durst and Paulina Rubio among others have been privy to his master shots. His editorials have graced many a magazine – be it Cosmopolitan, Italian Vanity Fair, GQ, MAXIM, Latin Style, Genlux, Stone, Ritmo Beat, Smart Photography, Fashion Unlimited, After Capture, NHA or

Ash has also photographed and directed short experimental films, Little White Lie and The Story of NaOmi along with producer Michael Hirshenson. Both stories are told through the medium of still photographs shot in a special digital sequence to create an experimental short. The Story of NaOmi stars Kevin Sorbo, Koena Mitra and Chris Divechhio.

An out-an-out philanthrope, Ash spearheads a program that caters to all young, up-and-coming artists. Through the progressive 838 Media Group, he mentors a small group of talented actors, filmmakers, and photographers, aiding and directing them to their goals in the entertainment industry. His teachings reach beyond the mechanics of taking a picture to working with people, building a network within the industry, and developing a keen sense of business.

One of our correspondents caught up with him in Los Angeles for a brief tête-à-tête.

Ash, tell us a bit about your background.

I am from Sitapur, a small city in Northern India. I was raised in a very orthodox family with aristocratic roots. Even as a child, I was curious and filled my time with a lot of literature. I also enjoyed studying many forms of art.

How about your time studying at Cornell University? Is that what brought you to the US?

In a way, yes. My wife, Shani, at the time was studying at Cornell. It seemed that at that point in my life, I was presented with a choice; and I felt a need to reinvent myself. I arrived in New York in 1989 and my new life began. During my time in New York, Shani and I began our journey together, and I earned my Masters in Chemistry.

I am sure many people are surprised with this transition. Biochemistry to Fashion photography. What got you interested in this field?

I always had a love for photography. I inherited this passion from my father. When I moved from New York to Los Angeles in 1992, my love for photography only grew. I told myself that if I could connect with just a handful of people and create something they love, something meaningful, then I would create a collective for artists to come in and go as they pleased, to be inspired, to inspire and create.

What inspires you, Ash?

The mind of a woman. The movements made by a woman. A woman is simply a creature of inspiration.

What is awesome about Fashion Photography?

Fashion is a state of mind. It goes beyond the clothing, the styles and the trends. Fashion is a statement, both individually, as well as culturally.

What are some challenges that you find yourself facing more often than not?

At the start of my journey in this field, I felt as if I was constantly faced with challenges. I had no help, and expected none. I knew that all I had to do was get people to see what I can do. Then I would find my way. Eventually that time came and my images began to do the work for me. This is when the 838 Collective came to being.

What joys come of doing this work?

I love to create. I believe my joy in this field stems from that. I love being able to take an image, and completely transform it beyond the limits of making time stand still, to give it that power, emotion, and curiosity.

What is unique to your style? What do you bring for your clients, and your audience?

Honestly I didn't know I had a style. It took time, but as the years turned into a decade, and one decade became a few, I realized many people begin at the same level or same style, and that society pushes and pulls from you, and in-turn shapes your style. My thoughts inspire me, and that is translated through my work. I think that is something people admire about my work.

Bollywood, what’s your connection?

Before 1999, I didn't know much about Mumbai, or Bollywood. My first contact with Mumbai was Gulshan Grover, a famous Bollywood actor from Mumbai. My work began to take on a heavy influence in Mumbai, while Grover and I sat for a cup of tea, and decided to begin working with one another. Many clients are sent from Mumbai to me to photograph. 

Currently, talks are on for a television series about the 838 Collective.

What are your hobbies and passion?

Outside of work, I enjoy filling my time with my wife, Shani and my children, Tanisha, Shibumi and Esha.

What are you currently working on?

Currently I am putting together some books of my work titled, Jeff's Jacket. I am also collaborating with Apeksha Agarwal for another book titled, Delirium of Dementia.

What are your plans for the future?

My plans for the future have a special place in my heart. I am beginning the bureaucratic process for a project that will be titled, Roots of Fashion. My concept for this project focuses on the fashion of India, in the many regions that make it the country it is.

Do you have any suggestions for new photographers?

It's going to hurt. It's not easy. And it takes time. 

Ash Gupta’s stunning work can be viewed on his website


JULY 2018

Vol. 12 - No. 12


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