Lifestyle Design Hero: Photographer Maul Gohel, MBA dropout to Fashion TV award winner

This week’s Lifestyle Design Hero is award-winning fashion photographer Maul Gohel. He was chosen among 25 international fashion and advertising photographers to win top honours at the Cannes Film Festival back in 2013.

Maul’s story isn’t very different from that of Farhan Qureshi (R Madhavan) in the film 3 Idiots, who leaves a prestigious engineering college to pursue his dream of becoming a professional photographer. Gohel, 25, dropped out of an MBA degree in 2008, with barely any money or support, and went on to win international acclaim (including the Fashion TV award for Best Photographer, Advertising & Commercial). Maul’s work has been featured in editorials for Fashion TV, Vogue Italia and Femina. Check out some of his fashion films.

LMNO NEWYORK

In Frost

Maul’s artistic fervor for sophistication and finesse through his work in captivating shoots, fashion film direction and video production depicts a playful use of natural light and fashion aesthetic combined with breakthrough styling concepts.

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How did you get interested in photography?

Maul: It took a long time to discover my love for photography. My childhood dream was actually to become a cricketer. I was forced to pursue an MBA at a business school in Pune, which I quit on the very first day.

I started taking pictures with my 1.2 megapixel mobile phone camera just for fun. I would spend the whole day editing those images and sharing them online. One day, a musician friend asked me to shoot his concert with his SLR (single lens reflex) camera. When his band members saw the pictures, they said, ‘You are really good at this’. I discovered that I could use photography to portray the world as I saw it. That’s when I decided to study photography at the New York Film Academy.

Talk about your journey from there to Cannes.

I come from a family of doctors and engineers. Being a photographer was unheard of. I didn’t have money to buy expensive equipment because my father was apprehensive of lending money to me initially. He thought photography was one of my whims. So, I joined an event management company to support my passion. I would shoot whenever, wherever possible with a camera I had borrowed from a friend. After five years of intense struggle, I started bagging projects. But even at that time, I didn’t own a single professional level camera!

Once, I had to wait two whole months to do a shoot, because my friend’s camera was not available. After my dad saw how serious I was about my work, he gifted me a DSLR.

It took a lot of patience and pain to gather the funds to go to America to study photography. Things started falling into place after I returned to India. After a number of fashion and advertising campaigns, my work was noticed by the Cannes jury and I received a nomination. When my name was announced as one of the winners, I was in heaven.

What do you enjoy about fashion photography?

Fashion photography is often considered superficial and unworthy of serious thought despite its cultural relevance, artistic narrative and profound impact. Fashion photography is an amazing art form. I can express myself in black and white, in surreal and gritty imagery, messy backdrops, in candid shots and elaborate set-ups.

MAUL’S TIPS FOR ASPIRING FASHION PHOTOGRAPHERS

  • It’s not enough to be creative. You need to have business sense. With fashion becoming more corporate, business-driven, it is important to understand the mechanics behind the business of fashion
  • Apart from browsing through fashion magazines, religiously read trade papers for valuable information and contacts of agencies.
  • It is essential to have an online presence. So, build a website to showcase your portfolio online and get its address printed on your visiting card.
  • Be authentic. It’s not enough to make pretty pictures. What story are you telling through them?

Connect with fashion photographer Maul Gohel on maulgohel.com

By Kasmin Fernandes

A version of this interview was first published in Times Life by The Times of India

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