Photographer Rick Bhatia
Rick Bhatia is a culturally confused 21 year-old photographer and creative director who was born in Dubai and raised in California with Indian roots. He is currently a student at the University of Southern California (USC), wondering how his incoming degree contributes to his passion for photography.
SS: When did you first unravel your love for photography?
RB: During my freshman year of college, I enrolled in an “Intro to Photography” course with the intention of fulfilling a general education requirement. I still remember being silly enough to email my professor and say, “I didn’t realize a camera would be necessary for this course.” I eventually got my hands on a little point & shoot camera and everything unraveled from there.
SS: Have you ever worked full-time somewhere (and if so, where), or have you always been freelance?
RB: Up until this summer, I was exploring the world as a freelancer, steering clear of being sucked into a bubble when I was still in what I perceived to be a very malleable phase of my career. As a student, I was also unavailable to commit myself to something full-time. However, summer 2017 was the summer before my senior year and I wanted to use it to prepare for my future endeavors. I received a full-time summer internship offer from Swim Social, a Los Angeles-based social media marketing agency, focusing on the areas of creative direction, content coordination and photography. And I’ve never encountered a more perfect match!
SS: Who are some photographers you look up to?
RB: All-time: Tim Walker, Annie Leibovitz
SS: We're constantly toiling with the various perspectives of how creative is consumed, and the opinions created around it. Namely, it's down to one person’s taste versus another. How would you define your 'taste'?
RB: When I come across an image, I pretty much immediately and subconsciously decide whether or not it’s a visual I like. There’s no checklist or criteria I use. However, if I were to curate these images and lay them out in front of some refined experts, I’m sure there would be some recurring themes and elements that control my immediate emotions. Generally, I’d say this would be creative that is, in a sense, cinematic, clean and to the point.
SS: If you could pass along one bit of advice to a young photographer or creative, what would it be?
RB: There’s always going to be friction between the ideas of not getting ahead of yourself and having confidence in your work. My general rule of thumb is to avoid awarding myself titles until I hear it from others first. For instance, my first year behind the camera, I was hesitant to call myself a photographer. I didn’t want to assign myself a title that someone with maybe 25 years of experience had rightfully earned. The titles and recognition will come. In the meantime, focus on refining your craft and develop a style you can rightfully call your own.
SS: Do you have a muse?
RB: Music. Getting carried away by the sound and encountering mental images that translate to inspiration for my work.
SS: We love your Instagram captions, what's your "caption philosophy?"
RB: Witty and sassy
SS: Define your work.
RB: Using an organic approach to my environment, my subjects, regardless of whether they’re humans or objects, tend to render a delicate sensibility that skews toward the idea of modern romanticism. Perhaps a little cinematic in execution but nostalgic about the Los Angeles area and the development of the city as a metropolitan Art Deco center.
SS: Dream project?
RB: Shooting a cover of Dazed Magazine. They’re always epic.