All images by Ali Choudhry. Used with permission.
“I started photography about 7 years ago when my partner gifted me a camera for Christmas.” photographer Ali Choudhry tells us in an email. “I had recently lost my possessions in a house flood and this was his way of getting me back into art as I often mentioned some of the things I’d lost.” Ali specifically says the word art because of his portraiture process involving the specific creation of photos, not their capturing. When Ali sent his initial email, I could from the words that he was holding back from showing us some of his best work–and instead being timid to show off all the work that every other photographer has out there on Instagram.
But I asked him to resubmit–and was pleasantly surprised.
“I always thought beauty/headshot imagery was boring/easy. Until I’d been photographing for a couple of years and realized that that is most of what I did.” says Ali. “I didn’t sit down and try to develop a style.. but rather found that I naturally gravitated towards faces on simple backgrounds.” Like every other portrait photographer out there just cutting their teeth, Ali was smitten with bokeh. So he would shoot photos with a whole lot of it. But then he got studio equipment four years ago and his style began to evolve.
Despite using studio gear, Ali says that he’s pretty simple. He sticks to a simple Canon body, 85mm lens, some strobes and reflectors. For Ali, it isn’t about the gear–it’s about the people. And these days he’s typically shooting at around f11 or f14. “It sounds like a lot on paper but it all fits into enough bags that I can carry all of it with me by myself. Again, simplicity is the aim for me.”
Ali attributes his creative portraiture process partially to him being an introvert but also to his being a people person.
According to Ali:
“So what motivates me is that photography allows me an ‘in’ to not only interact with people, but has allowed me to meet some really amazing human beings. Reality stars, porn stars, sports stars, professional ballet dancers, world record holders, state and federal parliamentarians, rock gods… I’ve met a lot and each person has a story which I’m genuinely interested in. My fascination with people has kept me at this for nearly a decade now.”
Believe it or not, Ali has the most admiration for Bill Cunningham. You wouldn’t really think it from his photos, right? His photos are edgy and carefully staged while Bill went for candid, artsy, and “marvelous” as he’d like to say. But Ali says that him and Bill are a lot alike because they’re all about meeting amazing people.
For more of Ali’s photos, check out his Instagram.