They say, ‘we take photographs as a return ticket to a moment gone otherwise’ but it is more than that for this young and talented aspiring photographer from Manipur, who hopes to click portraits of people to remind them how beautiful they are in their most natural and candid self.
18-year-old Richard Pao said this was his first time sharing his story with a stranger and that he felt privileged for the opportunity. We think that this marks the beginning of an era and a start to a successful career as a photographer. Read on to know more about him, about his passion for photography, what sparked his interest in this profession and more.
We would love to know more about you – Where are you from and what are you up to?
Hello, I’m Richard Pao from Imphal. I’m 18 years of age and just completed 12th grade. I love coffee and traveling. I am currently taking a year off to focus on photography and writing. I hope to take up cinematography professionally along with photography.
How did photography spark your interest initially?
As a kid, I always played around with my dad’s camera and camcorders but it was not until I was 16 that I got my first phone. I took a lot of pictures of my friends and people around me and I enjoyed capturing them. My brother, on seeing that I have a huge passion for it, got me my first DSLR on my 17th birthday and I haven’t t stopped clicking since then.
“The years are young, so are you” | Shot by @Richard_Pao
How do your roots influence your style of work?
I was born into a family that has a deep passion for art and photography in general but unfortunately, no one took it up as a profession.
“I was always intrigued by the idea of how even a simple mundane subject can be captured in a special – sometimes extraordinary, manner. So I would go around town with my cousins to capture anything and everything on our mobile phones. Looking back, I would definitely say that my curiosity to find beauty in everything, and being around people who appreciated the art of photography pulled me closer towards taking it up as more than a hobby.”
Reversal | Shot by Richard Pao
A Travel Buddy from Kohima | Shot by Richard Pao
Students in their Uniforms | Shot by Richard Pao
Little Kid Spotted in Kohima War Cemetery | Shot by Richard Pao
“I learned about lighting – how to use the camera and photography tricks all by myself – mostly by observing works of other photographers, or on the internet. “
A Friend from Imphal | Shot by Richard Pao
Memories of an Evening Stroll | Shot by Richard Pao
You click a lot of portraits. Tell us how it is different from event photography. Which do you enjoy more?
For me, portraits are personal – it’s about trying to capture everything about a moment in a single photograph. The surroundings and the model have to be synchronized to be able to get the type of photograph I want to produce. I am not a professional photographer – I’m still learning… But for me, event photography is easier. I capture natural moments and I end up getting good results. Whereas in portraits you have the power to direct and you end up clicking 100 pictures just to get one that fits your aesthetics.
“Revenant. ” | Shot by Richard Pao
You are 18 and have progressed so much. What do you do full-time and how do you manage your love for photography?
I am a student but the good thing about photography is you don’t require a 9-to-5 job for it. I try to take projects during my breaks or over the weekends. I am currently on a break so it is easier for me to manage. I hope to take this on as a full-time profession.
What keeps you motivated and where do you draw inspiration from?
People around me keep me motivated. There are so many talented photographers – especially from Northeast India that I follow and admire. I’ve been lucky enough to have been able to work, learn and evolve under the mentorship of some of the best photographers – like Saint Kamei, Pousing Phaomei, Rashingam Ngoruh & Biaklian Hauzel.
“Also recently, I have been inspired by the celebrated New York photographer Brandon Woefel and his unique aesthetics of playing with light in his photographs.”
What do you hope people take away from your photographs?
I hope that my portraits remind people that they are beautiful just the way they are – natural and candid.
What gets you particularly excited about pursuing photography as a career?
Just knowing that I will have something to shoot the next day is enough to get me out of bed even though I love my bed, and sleep is something I never compromise on.
Coffee and Camera – Richard’s two favorite things in a frame.
Tell us about your most memorable photo shoot.
I think that would be the first outdoor wedding that I shot in my native village last December. Everything was perfect – the natural lights and happy people. The idea of being able to capture someone else’s most important day already made it special enough for me – especially for the fact that I am just 18, and they trust me with capturing their precious moments.
Follow Richard Pao on Instagram to track his photo diaries and his career as a photographer
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