Updated: Oct 4, 2020
We are back with our featured artist series. This is a series in which we talk to the talented people in the area of art and craft, journaling, bullet journaling, productivity, photography and many more. The main purpose of this series is to learn from these adroit individuals. Today, we will be talking to Shriya Bengeri, a 23-year-old architect from Mumbai, India who loves to journal and cannot function without her coffee and bullet journal.
One of her many past times is styling the household objects in an aesthetically pleasing manner and clicking their photos. From what started as a hobby is now her side kick. Shriya takes freelance projects for Product Photography and Content Creation on various Social Platforms.
Shriya, when I first saw your flatlays, I instantaneously felt connected to them. I feel, each element in your flatlays have a meaning and gives an overall perspective to the photograph. You seems a very seasoned photographer, please tell me how you started with photography and how long have you been clicking flatlays?
The first memory I have of wanting to click an artistic photograph is from December 2009, we were on a boat ride in the backwaters of Kerala and I wanted to click this frame where the reflection of the coconut trees in the water just felt perfect. I could envision the frame but well I lacked camera skills. But a fellow travel group member, who was a professional photographer, was sweet enough to help me out and that’s when I felt that it’s a doable hobby, but not until I entered architecture did I really enjoy it and develop an eye for it.
It was the beginning of 2016 when this one video surfaced on my feed about how to compose a good photograph and I believe that it was this video that really pulled me in. Call it a good timing or may be my stars aligned well, ha-ha but this video came in handy right before my trip to Rajasthan and I was able to get some really good shots there. I started posting these photos on Instagram and I started getting a lot of appreciation for it from fellow photographers and a few magazine editors alike and that boosted my confidence to learn more of this art form. With this little confidence I decided to enter a state level photography competition held by IIA (Indian Institute of Architects) and to my surprise I won one of categories in the students group and got a commendation in other. It was then that I decided to take this hobby seriously. My parents gifted me a camera soon after this and I enrolled myself into a week long summer photography course to understand the basics of my camera.
Almost two years later I was introduced to the world of Flatlays when I came across this one, woman photographer based in Australia, names Connie Chan (@whatshepictures) She is product stylist and photographer who used to share all her BTS on her stories and used to explain how she makes her lays and why she does it the way she does. It definitely taught me a lot about creating a frame from scratch rather than just clicking what is in front of you.
The journey has been really great ever since. I recently even started taking up freelance product styling and photography gigs, and some days I look back and think what if I never took these trips? Would I be doing what I am at the moment? There is a long way to go and a lot to learn and every day, every new frame teaches me something new and I believe that is the beauty of this art.
Wow! It sounds like you were destined to do this. And, I like the fact that you keep on learning from every frame or photograph, because as an artist it is really important to keep on learning from your own experiences. This helps you in evolving your own style. Talking about style, how you define your style and what inspires you the most, as in your source of inspiration?
If I had to describe my Instagram style in a words then it has to be warm, cozy and homely. I am of the opinion that it is all about the aesthetic for they have the capability to give out a vibe and that “good vibe “matters the most to me. However, if I had to describe my general design style then it has to be simple, elegant, clean and something that follows a grid yet a little abstract.
I believe that every object tangible or intangible, around you can inspire you to create your next masterpiece. Nature is the best source of inspiration in my opinion. It’s something like you go for a walk and finds a frame you would want to click/paint or that one particular evening walk would set you in the right mood to create art.
Nature is indeed the best source of inspiration, but as an artist you learn from others, like here I am trying to learn the nitty-gritty of flatlays from you. In the same way, there must be some other artists, whose work inspires you, we would like to know about them.
I honestly cannot pin down one artist whose work inspires me, because like I said before I believe that inspiration can be drawn from anything and everything around you. However, works of Ar. Charles Chorrea, Ar. Tadao Ando, Ar. Raj Rewal, Ar. B V Doshi have had a major influence on my sense of style, framing and aesthetics since my formative years in architecture school. But a few photographers on Instagram whose work I always look up to are @thebiteshot, @whatshepictures.
You mentioned that you took a week long summer photography course. Apart from that, have you received any sort of training or are you more of a self-taught photographer?
I think I would call it an 80-20, where 80% of the learning is either through trials and errors or through YouTube videos and the rest 20% is through the little crash course. Honestly speaking, YouTube is always the best place to learn new skills. There are so many channels to learn from, and one of the MOST amazing would be Peter McKinnon.
There are so many different categories in photography. What all do you love practicing?
Apart from making flatlays I think what I truly enjoy doing is street and architectural photography. Every building/ structure and person alike has a story to tell and I like capturing it in my lens.
What sort of camera and other photography gears do you use. And, is it really necessary to invest a lot in these gears to take a perfect shot? Like, if I want to explore flatlays per se, what all would I need?
It would seem that to click nice pictures one needs fancy camera gear, in the olden days that probably was true but now with the betterment in the smartphone technology the cameras in our phones are equally good. Understand the basics of your phone camera and if there is a Pro mode in it use that and click it on manual mode and I can assure you that you will get good results. Most of my photos for Instagram are taken on my phone since I prefer editing them on my phone. If your phone camera doesn’t have a PRO feature, try using Adobe Lightroom Mobile app. The best camera is the one you already have.
So that means, you don’t need to invest much in the beginning for cultivating this hobby. Is there any other message you would like to give to the budding photographers or to our fellow bullet journalers who would like to take photographs of their spreads?
Experiment, with light, styles and compositions. There is nothing right or wrong when it comes to art and photography. To create an appealing photograph, keep a close eye on the composition, that’s the key, the rest will come in with the flow.
Always click your photos in Natural light. There is nothing better than that, because the colours look the most real in a natural light setting. While you edit your photos see to it that you don’t edit them so much that the colours in your artwork change (This is especially important if you are selling your artwork). A lot of people increase the contrast and the make the pages look so bright and white that it starts looking like a rather scanned image than a beautiful lay. Focus on the Hero of your lay, and let the rest play around it.
It takes simple things to add as props in your flatlays, so start today, pick up your journals/artwork/ whatever you would want to photograph, take it near a window and start clicking pictures, slowly you will start developing a style and will start understanding the compositions better.
Shriya, it was a delight talking to you. I have learnt a lot and I hope others will also be able to extract some meaning out of this article. In the end, I would like to know any of your favourite memory, any instance which you came across while capturing a photograph?
Honestly, every photo has a memory but I think the most beautiful one I have is of the time I was clicking photos of my February 2020 bullet journal spreads. There was no fancy lay, just my journal and a dried flower and suddenly there was a golden light in my room and getting those photos in that light was just a very beautiful feeling.
Guys, this was Shriya from @thecaffeinatedjournal_, who is a flatlay photographer, loves her coffee and bullet journal. As a leisure activity, she loves to take out her camera and goes on little adventures in and around the city. In Shriya’s words “It gives me joy to explore the unknown, meet new people and capture their emotions through my lens.”
If you want to see her work or hire her for your projects, please follow this link: https://thecaffeinatedjournal.myportfolio.com/
You can also follow her on social media: