India Bharadwaj is a 25-year-old photographer who bridges East and West in her work. Her portfolio seamlessly oscillates between women in lehengas and campaigns for multinational companies. GUAP sat down with India to explore how her culture strengthened her creativity and career.
GUAP: What motivates your creative eye?
India: I’ve always had one foot in India and one foot in London. I speak Hindi and Marathi and spent a couple of years growing up there, and since we moved to London, I have returned to India every year. And then, growing up in London, I’m quite assimilated into London culture. That puts me in a place where I can see the similarities between two seemingly different worlds, and that drives my creative purpose. I feel fulfilled when my work creates a conversation between two people who may not have believed they have common ground.
GUAP: Across the board, your projects are all very different. Do you seek a through-line in your work?
India: I’ve dabbled in many things my whole life, and my mum would always say not to be a Jack Of All Trades. But, the second part of that phrase is that it’s better to be a Jack of All Trades than a master of one– and that’s how I want to be. I feel so lucky to have life sent all these opportunities that have allowed me to grow sideways and forward. Not choosing a niche has been such a beautiful part of my journey, but I will say emotion is what I look to highlight through all my work. I love when viewers can feel the emotion radiating off of my work.
GUAP: You also have some distinctly Indian and London-based work in your portfolio. How do you balance and maintain the perspective needed to work in both spaces?
India: Well, growing up in India and London, I definitely understand the psyche of both groups. But, working with White people and Brown people is worlds apart. The creativity in each culture is very different. However, if you can tap into them both, you end up with a unique perspective.
When navigating the two gets confusing, I go to my mum for advice. She’s worked all over the world with all kinds of people and has the best advice. What’s stuck with me most is never to think that I’ve arrived. She reminds me to keep innovating, keep going, work with new people, and move gracefully because everyone makes mistakes.
GUAP: Your work is so driven by community. How did you build that community for yourself?
India: I think I’m just a chatty person! I really enjoy hearing people’s stories– it inspires me. Then, I’ve also been lucky to meet other people who are just as interested as I am in the human experience, so it feels more natural to build friendships with them. But in a city like London, with so many established creative communities, it can feel like you may not fit in sometimes. The imposter syndrome can kick in strong, so I like to look at it more holistically. Finding one person here, one there… that slowly builds a community, and I think that is actually more authentic and beautiful than trying to fit in.
GUAP: What advice would you give to other young creatives?
India: Keep going. Don’t wait to be paid; don’t be afraid to put yourself out there. To South Asians specifically, I’d say: we come from a generation that is one underneath the generation of survival. Many of our parents are immigrants, so they had no choice but to do what put food on the table. Some of them may have even given up their creative aspirations to provide for us. So it’s up to us to break that generational trauma of needing to do something “acceptable.” In my journey, I’ve learned that I can be paid to do what I love. I just needed to believe in myself because that would also incite hope in my mum. Radically believe in yourself, and xacknowledge that we have the privilege to do what we want rather than what we must do.
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