I first caught a glimpse of this eclectic woman with the most electrifying smile at a blogger confluence held in New Delhi in June 2016 where she was one of the guest speakers. For me, she turned out to be THE speaker as she spoke truly from her heart and was candid to a point of brutal honesty. But there was only hardcore advise and not rancour in her words. I was thrilled when she agreed to make an appearance on my blog via an interview chat. So without much ado, let me present to you Naina Redhu
Q1. Your hairstyle is a very striking thing about you; any hair-raising stories to share?
A1. Please watch / listen to this podcast episode where that’s all I talk about!
Q1.a. Have you ever had a memorable (& repeatable) funny incident/comment or a Compliment over it, in India ?
A1.a. I’ve been mistaken as a boy several times. I’ve had strangers walk up to me and tell me they love the hair style. Lots of compliments. I don’t recall a single instance of anyone saying anything bad / mean or even making fun. I have shaved my head completely as well – more than a few times. When I did it the first time, I was at a mall in Bombay and a group of young, school-going girls stared at me, then followed me, then eventually one of them asked them why I’d shaved my head. I had shaved it just like that so I told her as much. They were all wide-eyed. It’s just hair. It grows back.
Q2. Naina – the blogger or Naina – the photographer. How would you like to be identified as & why?
A2. I am both a photographer and a blogger. I have always been a photographer and I started blogging in 2003. I used to blog about whatever work I was doing at that time – or personal travel or stories and experiences from my life. I still do that – so I end up blogging about my photography work now. Photography is my primary revenue-generator and I enjoy it immensely. I enjoy blogging also – regardless of whether I remain a professional photographer or take up another trade, I will also want to share and document my experiences – so, I will always be a blogger!
Pssst: Check out these stunning portraits by her where the eyes speak out volumes!!
Q3. Pls share your fav photography gear & something in your wish list to buy/use.
A3. I believe that the best camera is the one you have. I don’t have a favourite piece of photography gear. Some are too heavy but I like their resolution and low-light capabilities. Some are light and easy to lug around on long vacations but are useless in low-light situations. If I had to choose one setup from all the stuff I have, I would choose one full-frame DSLR with a 35mm f1.4 lens. I have a couple of full-frame DSLRs but I don’t have 35mm f1.4 lens yet. Wish list wise I would like to get rid of all my heavy gear and get a lighter camera system – full-frame DSLR, speed-lights, lenses, the works. I’m not sure there’s a light-weight system that can 100% replace my current gear – not yet anyway. But soon.
Q4. How & why did the hashtag “Eyes for” come about? What is the thought behind it?
A4. Thank you for asking this question. I ended up using it as the subject of one of my podcast episodes
Q4.a. What’s your thumb rule / tip for coming up with a hashtag?
A4.a. Should be short and relevant. If it doesn’t add context, it’s useless.
Q5. You have a clientele in the fashion & lifestyle niche. Do brands dress/accessorize you? Do you get to keep the stuff? If yes, how do you look at it – fee in kind or complimentary gifts? In your opinion, what should be the professional view for it?
A5. Yes. Brands do send me free gifts – clothes, accessories, footwear, food, electronics etc. Sometimes they ask me before sending stuff, in which case I prefer to choose what I would like – no point getting stuff and straight-away putting it in the dustbin or giving it away.
Sometimes brands send stuff without asking. The best professional approach from my point of view is disclosure. As long as I am transparent about my relationship with the brand, it’s fine to accept gifts.
Brands usually send this stuff because they are hoping for some form of “coverage”. But if there is no contract to that effect specifying the exchange of value, then there is no guarantee that I will provide any coverage. Especially if I don’t end up using the product.
It is not a “fee”. I am aware of other professionals in the same industry who absolutely do not accept gifts. And then there are some who accept gifts and refuse to be transparent. I understand the latter as well – why does a blogger owe complete transparency to the audience? I guess the answer is, “It depends!” If you are not comfortable with something, don’t do it. We must remain open to learning, discussion and evolution.
Q6. Pls share the narkiest client story about budget/payment you have ever faced?
A6. This one’s probably the worst of the lot
Q7. Thoughts on storytelling – pls share some tips/ rules….
A7. There’s no one way to do it of course. No “tips” or “rules”. I’m more a “rule-breaker” anyway. I guess what’s best is to stay authentic. Document the experience from start to finish. Add your personality. That’s what will make it different from someone else’s story of the same experience. I’m talking purely from my point of view as a photographer / blogger.
If the story is about a person, spend time with them in their environment. Talk to them – and not just purely to get a story out of them – get to know them. If the story is about a place, spend some time there. If it’s about an event, go behind the scenes.
And share your experience. Don’t vomit – edit. Just because you spent 30 days at a location doesn’t mean you should give a day-by-day description for each of those 30 days. At the same time, maybe you could do that too. Whatever you do, make it your own.
Q8. Who photographs you Naina? ( You have some gorgeous profile pics of yours)
A8. It used to be mostly Akanksha ( my sister ). She has photographed some lovely images of me. These days it’s usually Bharat, my husband, who photographs me when he’s not sailing. When he’s sailing, I go back to Akanksha. I’ve photographed myself too sometimes. Sometimes it’s my Dad who’s photographed me.
Q9. How much photo editing is good enough? Where do you draw the line?
A9. If it’s a client assignment, then it’s a mutual decision between the subject, the client and the photographer. If it’s a personal project, then it’s between the subject and the photographer – assuming there’s a subject. If there’s no subject who will be affected by the decision of “how much editing”, then it’s up to the photographer.
Also “editing” and “re-touching” can be different. “Post-production” can involve both increasing contrast as well as removing objects from the image. I try not to make drastic changes to my images – so I won’t change body-shapes or remove elements from the images.
But I do prefer removing active acne – because I could have photographed when the subject didn’t have acne. Also depends on the type of assignment – if it’s a beauty edit where the skin is supposed to be flawless, then that’s the goal. If it’s a photojournalism assignment then apart from maybe contrast / exposure, I would touch nothing else.
Q9.a. What’s your fav photo editing app / software ?
A9.a. On the laptop it is Adobe Lightroom. On the Google Pixel XL mobile phone, it is VSCO.
Q10. Thoughts on Instagram Naina.
A10. A necessary evil. I don’t create for Instagram. I do my work and then that work gets disseminated across various social media channels – Instagram is one of those channels. It’s a for-profit organization that will do whatever it needs to do to make a profit. I would like to not depend on it to define my work-choices. At the same time, on Instagram, I love looking at the work of incredibly talented individuals from all over the world. I might not visit their blogs / websites but I can keep track of their progress and projects via their Instagram feeds.
Psssst: I love the series she has done on capturing the Rashtrapati Bhawan
Q11. Folks, especially women seeking to make a career in blogging/photographing – what would be your 2 bit on that?
A11. Start. In my experience talking to people who want to blog / photograph, the main problem seems to be that none of them have started. Hard to make a career in anything if you don’t even start. Once you start, you will see and learn things. Accordingly, you will improvise. Trial and error will lead to improvements or you will realize that it is not for you.
Q12. Tell us something we should know about you, but never asked.
A12. I’m quite transparent about my life and work – I blog about pretty much everything. Answers to almost any question anyone might have about me, can probably be found either on my blog or on my podcast. I get questions on email as well – and when the questions aren’t vague like, “I want to blog, what should I do?”, I tend to respond to the best of my ability. Specific questions are more likely to be answered and I’m more than happy to answer them. Feel free to email me on email@example.com if you or any of your readers might want to know something! Anytime!
Well folks that’s it from the lady who has the eye for it all. I hope you will love connecting with her as much as I have. Her podcasts are great fun to hear and I hope you will log into the ones marked here at least.
Linking up for #wordsante with Namysaysso for every post deserves some love