Through his viewfinder
Sep 29, 2015-
Photographer Bryan Rai is a Hong Kong-born Kathmandu-raised photographer who is known for his work with other media too. A videographer, an event manager and a multimedia producer, Rai has quite an impressive list of credentials. As for his work in photography, it’s the surrealistic sensibilities present in his work that help him stand out among the crowd of shutterbugs. In an interview with The Post’s Gaurav Pote, Rai talks about his passion and what keeps him going. Excerpts:
Tell us a little about yourself.
I was born in Hong Kong, but brought up in Kathmandu. I used to be a shy, chubby, introverted kid. Growing up, my ambitions kept changing. I wanted to be an army man, a doctor, an engineer, so on, and it wasn’t until I turned 20 and started interning for Party Nepal that I realised I loved the camera and everything to do with it.
You take amazing photos. How did you get into photography? Any particular photographer you follow?
I did not get into photography intentionally. While I was interning at Shreeking I discovered I could take pictures. And it wasn’t long before I picked up videography too, from Laxcha Thebe Bantawa. Everything was unfamiliar to me, almost like an arranged marriage of sorts, but with each passing day I fell in love with camera work, and I loved learning as much as I could about taking photos and videos.
In Nepal, I believe everyone loves photographer Kishor Kayastha. I also love Sushan Shrestha’s retouching. Outside Nepal, I follow photographers like Max Drukpa, Dani Diamond and Julia Kuzmenko.
What is your photography philosophy?
Think about this: It’s amazing how you can capture the significance of a moment, or the beauty of a place or a person and keep it with you forever in the form of a photograph. I find this notion absolutely fascinating and that propels me to keep taking more pictures. But choosing to be a photographer comes with its own setbacks, too, as the equipment doesn’t come cheap; furthermore, the clients like to bargain for hefty discounts, and many sometimes even request free photo shoots. It’s tough to sustain oneself as a photographer in Nepal, but you just have to keep shooting and be mentally prepared to go broke several times initially in your career. But it will pan out in the long run if you are passionate and doggedly determined.
If you had to choose between still photographs and motion pictures…
Still photos and motion pictures move along parallel lines, which by definition, do not intersect. I think there are certain things that are best expressed in photos, while there are other ideas that are more justified by videos. So there is no choosing for me in this regard.
What keeps you busy these days? Are you working on anything interesting?
Currently, I’m working on a few music videos, something completely different from what I had been doing for my corporate clients. It’s actually turning out to be quite fun, particularly the part where I get to cast gorgeous models for the music videos.
You must have a busy schedule. What keeps you motivated?
I once ended up penniless--just flat broke. It was terrible and I don’t want to go through that ever again. That is what drives me and keeps me motivated to work harder, perform better and push myself to come up with projects that are interesting.
What’s your take on commercial photography in Nepal?
Commercial photography does bring in money, but the most critical factor in Kathmandu, as I have seen it, is that no matter how good a photographer you are, if you don’t have good PR in the city, you’re doomed.
On a lighter note, how do you spend your weekends?
Right now, I’m in this phase where I just want to focus on my work. I’ve been working so much that it’s been months since I last saw my family and pet. I haven’t even met my friends for quite sometime now.
Do you cook, by any chance?
I do, but everything I cook tastes good only to me.
Any recent movie that you liked watching…
Whiplash. That’s a great movie.
What’s next for Bryan Rai?
A lot of adventure.
Finally, a few words of advice for our readers.
People will tell you who you should be, what you should do and what you should be passionate about. The trick is not to listen to anybody but yourself. Perseverance is key, and whether you quit or continue working towards your ambition in life is what tells people what you’re really made of.
Published: 29-09-2015 08:56