Photographer and Uber Driver-Partner
Driver-partner Nitin has photographed everyone from Jay-Z to Paul Simon to President Obama.
We caught up with the recent LA transplant and #UberARTIST to learn more about his life up in London, how he landed in LA, and his take on photographing the world’s most famous hip-hop stars.
When did you first get into photography?
In school in London my primary interests were in the arts and sciences. I loved to draw and I loved to paint and I loved painters.
My father was also an amateur photographer. When I was nine years old I just picked up a camera. I used it as an illustrative tool, manipulating images and really playing with it. By the time I was 14 years old I decided to pursue a career in photography. I left school when I was 15.
How did your parents react in you leaving school to pursue art and photography?
It was the usual parent reaction you would expect. “Be an accountant, be a lawyer.” My father said don’t get into the arts because it is never certain. But you know, the more you tell a child don’t do this, they are going to do the exact opposite.
"In freelance you also don’t know where the income is coming from and Uber provides a stability. I also love the meditative part of it. It gives me a lot of time to think of my projects and my ideas."
— Nitin, Photographer
Did you start working right away?
I eventually found a job working as an apprentice with a photographer in London. Took about six months. Within a year I became his first assistant. We shot for all different big advertising agencies while I worked with him – Ogilvy & Mather, Saatchi & Saatchi.
I left in 1985 after five years with him and pushed a lot more into the music industry, doing album covers. I was 19 years old. It was scary to go out on my own. But I think if you don’t have a little sense of fear, you are taking it too easy. Being young you just roll into it — a full force into creativity.
What other creative leaps did you take around this time?
When I was 25 years old I decided to up and move to Paris. I wanted a change – different sensibility, wanted different flavors.
I didn’t work at all in music here and moved back into advertising. I was very good at executing what the top creative executives wanted, but also added what I wanted. Most of the time they went with what I wanted.
How did you make it to the U.S.?
I moved back to London but kept getting calls for shoots in the U.S. My first big job was shooting Tommy Lee Jones in Chicago for Details Magazine. I came back to London and instead of shipping the prints from London to the U.S., I flew back to hand deliver them to the New York office and I decided to stay.
How did your new editorial assignments compare to shooting advertisements?
In editorial I had more freedom. It was great shooting for Interview Magazine, Details Magazine, and Rolling Stone Magazine. Advertising was like being in the army and editorial was like being on vacation. I did enjoy them both.
How did you end up shooting some of LA’s top musicians?
I got the opportunity to shoot for The Source around 1996. I never shot hip hop before and I got to see the art director of the magazine. He said try to do hip-hop in a way that has never been done before. I ended up producing images of Dr. Dre very closely tied into his album and what he was doing at the time. The concept was him rising out of the fire like a phoenix.
What drew you to LA?
I spent 25 years in London, two years in Paris, 20 years in New York and now I am here. I got to a point I just wanted to focus on my own personal work, on fine art. It is in my nature I just like to change and explore new grounds. I have been coming here since 1993 on and off. I think it is beautiful and one of the most creative places on this planet. I feel you can also really express yourself here.
Who are your biggest inspirations?
I have always been inspired by great thinkers like Da Vinci, Beethoven, Dali, Francis Bacon. But I never wanted to find a personality and emulate. I have always believed you have to be true to yourself, you have to find yourself. It is what stands yourself out from someone else. I engineered that thought process into my work and my life.
How does Uber fit into your life as an artist?
I am a good driver. I love driving, I love people, and I love providing a service and being of service. In freelance you also don’t know where the income is coming from and Uber provides a stability. I also love the meditative part of it. It gives me a lot of time to think of my projects and my ideas. You really get to learn about yourself through the riders you pick up and you get to learn about other people. It’s inspiring.
What are you excited about as you begin creating art in LA?
I’m excited to do what I really do best which is really excelling in my creativity – music for sure and exhibiting my fine art work. I also have an interest in filmmaking and music videos more than ever and the music scene is phenomenal here. It is one area I haven’t really pushed into yet.
Hear more Driver Stories