Hit on by men, yes, but fashion photography it is for this G-town resident
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Hit on by men, yes, but fashion photography it is for this G-town resident

Nepotism isn't just in Bollywood, as Kangana Ranaut says, it exists in the fashion world too, as Jayati Sarkar would have us believe.

Hit on by men, yes, but fashion photography it is for this G-town resident Fashion photography may look cool when you see an image like this, but Jayati Sarkar (inset) says it's not so pretty behind the scene

It's not easy to be a fashion photographer, especially when you are a woman. And no one knows this better than Jayati Sarkar, a resident of Uppal's Southend, Gurgaon.



To begin with, giving up a steady corporate job as a procurement manager in Llyod to plunge into the high-voltage world of fashion with no mentors meant there was no regular income flowing in. "It was a tense period for me when I had no assignments to work on," she says.

As if that wasn't enough, her immediate family minced no words in disapproving of her uncertain career switch.

And then there were men to deal with: She has been asked out by several from the fashion industry for dates, some openly soliciting for "you know what I mean"!



But she wouldn't be intimidated, taking up a one-year course on advanced course studio lighting from Indian Photography Institute and learning the technique from YouTube tutorials, videos and by trial and error methods. Two years now in the industry with several shoots to her credit doing campaigns for Pepsi, Nivea and Monte Carlo, she has established herself well. And yes, money has been coming in.



But some challenges remain. "The fashion community is a very closed-door fraternity and as an outsider who knew no one, it was and still is very difficult. People want to employ only those they know and are comfortable with. You may be better, you may give brilliant concepts, quote low prices, but they will still like to hire someone they have worked with before," the 30-year-old says, adding, "I totally endorse what Kangana Ranaut says about nepotism in Bollywood." 

Besides, she adds, "Fashion photography still has some way to go to meet international standards. Indian clients are not yet ready to experiment." Rarely does one get clients like Zoraya, a clothing brand, where the designer and owner of the label gave her full freedom.



The world of fashion is glamorous as you and I see it, but she says when you have to climb on rooftops, spend hours in the sun, deal with men who seek something in return or clients who are interfering, it isn't that cool at all. There are also logistical challenges sometimes, like when she flew all the way to Nagpur to do a Pepsi campaign only to find that her production guy was held back at the Delhi airport because he couldn't get clearance for the studio equipment like lights and tripods. "I was nervous as hell. You cannot mess around with such a big brand. But thankfully, there was ample sunlight then and I managed," she says.



But still, fashion is what she loves, and even if you pay her money, lots of it, she won't do any other form of photography: Portfolio shoots, weddings, news photography, et al.

Describing the process, she says she meets the model at least twice to know her well, so the model and the photographer are in sync with each other. In these meetings she explains the theme, the composition, and the kind of expressions and body language required.



That brings me to the next question: Do female models feel more comfortable with women photographers? "International models have no issues, but I observe that Indian models are perhaps more comfortable with a female photographer," Sarkar says.

How do people react when people find out she is a fashion photographer? They don't react, she says, and that's because "I don't introduce myself as a fashion photographer. Just a photographer," she tells me on the phone from the chamber of a dermatologist, where she has gone for a consultation.



Why? What happened?

"Sunburn, I suppose," she says. "My skin is getting darker. Too much outdoor shooting."

Well, how's that for another professional hazard!