Beast fashion editor Ruby Daniel spoke to Montcalm East’s resident fashion photographer Riki Verma about his work, inspiration and top tips for any budding snappers.
Tell us about your influences and icons and how you got started in photography?
I was in sixth form and I entered a photo competition. They gave me a camera to use, so I ended up taking photos for the next month or so and found I really enjoyed it. I missed the camera when I had to give it back. So when it was my birthday I asked for a camera and that kick started my career.
I turn a lot to American hip hop culture as that’s what I was exposed to growing up – Fifty Cents and early Kanya West. They helped shaped my work, my interests and who I am as a person. I don’t have one person who inspires me, I get inspo from lots of different places – tv shows, movies, real life.
Why do you particularly like fashion photography?
Because it’s so expressive. I don’t feel I’m the most expressive person and photography allows me to express parts of myself I don’t normally get to on a daily basis. Documenting other people’s fashion and people that aren’t really seen that much is quite fulfilling. Boosting and highlighting people that don’t normally get the light they deserve or because they’re an ethnic minority. It’s important for me to represent ethnic minorities.
Best piece of advice you’ve ever been given?
Keep shooting and trying something different each time. Myself compared to last year has already changed. I’ve found my work has continued to refine more and more.
Who would you most like to photograph? Dead or alive
Maybe Michael Jackson – or Tupac – he has so many iconic photos!
Someone alive would have to be Jorja Smith, that would be really cool.
What does success look like for you?
Standing on my own two feet – financially, creatively. It’s always a thing in brown culture – people are always saying ‘when are you going to get a real job’. So being able to hold my own and say I did this myself’. I’d be able to show and silence all the aunts and uncles!
What do you think makes a great fashion photograph?
Composition, colours and a good model who knows how to move their body into the best poses and expressions. A model who knows how to make great shapes that accentuate an outfit.
Of all the images you’ve photographed so far, what is your favourite? Can we see…
At the moment, it’s this one as it got recognition from Timberland and for me it signifies a step in the right direction for my career. I was able to do this with a friend of mine who is in the fashion space. It means a lot to me.
If you could give someone starting 3 top tips, what would they be?
Once you’ve started, don’t stop. Being able to persevere.
Don’t be afraid to network. When I started I was so shy.
Don’t be afraid to lean in to different styles. It’s important to try new things cos you never know how it could shope your views
If your photography had a soundtrack, what music would you choose?
Victory Lap by Nipsey Hussle
Favourite 3 films?
Grand Budapest Hotel
Favourite East London hangout?
Sleazy Pizza, Brick Lane
I love the area around Liverpool Street – the dynamic cityscapes together with all the cool stuff nearby.
Follow Riki @shotbyrikstar
Don’t miss Riki’s photography workshops Montcalm East this summer
- 29th July – Long Exposure photography Learn the basic technique of long exposure that results in creative and unique photography.
- 26th August – Photowalk Create fashion-based portraits around Old Street and Shoreditch
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