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Meet the Team: Nick Dhokia

We caught up with London-based photographer Nick Dhokia who has been part of BabyStep since day one. Whether it be Photographing our parties, our early feature interviews, or capturing memorable gigs, Nick has been at the forefront of documenting the magazine's journey from the start. As part of our interview, we followed him around Hyde Park to get some insight into his creative process.

Please tell us your name, age, role in the magazine and what you currently do.

I’m Nick, I’m 22 and I'm a photographer for BabyStep. I graduated from the university of Leeds in December where I studied neuroscience. I was working out in Val D’Isere doing a ski season but I was forced to come back due to Covid-19! Currently, as it stands I’m still a freelance photographer and I’ve just started working as a home-based customer service advisor in the hope that it will cure my quarantine boredom somewhat.

Tell us how you first got involved with BabyStep

I first got involved with BabyStep in my first year at uni through Josh, who I’ve known for a lifetime – we played rugby together as kids. I was lucky to be involved at the very beginnings of BabyStep when I helped out by doing some photography for the early projects.

Tell us about some other projects your involved in (photography etc)

Due to the current Covid-19 situation I can’t say I’m involved in many at all! However I’ve been planning a lot for when this all comes to an end so watch this space, a lot of portraits to come.

What does BabyStep mean to you?

BabyStep is a means of expression through the arts, a way of sending a message through an article, photo, video or whatever if may be. BabyStep provides the appreciation and a platform for all the creatives out there was well as the diverse range of cultures. For me that’s what it’s all about, celebrating our diversity as a nation and planet – BabyStep allows me to help with this celebration and exposure through my love of photography.

Where did your love of photography first start?

It began on a family holiday when I was 11. My dad had a digital Olympus camera, that was 2.4 megapixels or something. We were on one of those touristy boat tours in New York and my dad gave me the camera and I just started snapping away – taking pictures of everything I could whilst figuring out the how the zoom worked and all of the fiddly buttons. I was so intrigued by the difference in what the viewfinder saw and how the photos would come out; that sparked my interest in cameras themselves and the composition of images. I was fascinated by this small but ever so powerful tool and from there I became addicted to cameras and capturing everything I could.

What was the last thing that you watched that really inspired you?

The Last Dance. I find it so hard to watch tv shows and series, I just lose concentration so quickly even if I find it interesting. The Last Dance however, had my full attention for all of the 10 episodes. I didn’t know much about Michael Jordan before watching the show, other than that he owned Air Jordan and that he was good at basketball.

It’s probably one of the best things I’ve ever seen, and I now know why Michael Jordan is the GOAT. It was inspiring to see someone with the mentality that he had, and how it’s incomparable – anyone who knew, played with or against MJ was in awe at his talent and work ethic. The simple but incredible mantra of “Win at all costs” was inspiring and the will to be the best at whatever cost really hit me.

What is your best memory so far from being part of BabyStep?

It has to be one of the first times I was involved with BabyStep. Josh called me and said he’d managed to secure a few interviews with some artists who were playing at Inner City Electronic.

We headed down to Mint Club before it opened for Richy Ahmed’s set. Josh had an interview to do and I had to get the shots for the article. We ended up just chilling with Richy for a while, chatting about rugby and what not – he’s such a friendly and relaxed man, it didn’t feel like work at all! It felt like me, Josh and Richy were there just hanging out.

I hadn’t done a whole lot of photography work before this point and it was a real eye opener for me, learning how to go about getting the job done whilst enjoying myself. This being one of my first jobs I was burning inside with excitement and I was amazed at the fact that me and Josh were just there, sitting with Richy Ahmed having a good time.

If only all work was the same.

Are you now permanently based in London, if so what’s it been like since leaving Leeds?

After graduating from uni I moved back home to London and I was very apprehensive about it to be honest. Whilst I love London I didn’t want to leave a place I had learnt to love so much, especially in my final year where I really felt like it was home and that I was meant to be there.

After a few months of being in London I got a job in the cafe/restaurant of a local garden centre. I had already developed a disliking towards being back at home as I felt like I had no immediate goals and I wasn’t doing what I enjoyed in any way. I was set on going travelling or doing a ski season and the job (whilst I thought it was a pile of shit) allowed me to save up so that I could do so. A combination of the job and the fact that a lot of my friends were still in Leeds as they did a year abroad/a year in industry drove me crazy and I began to dislike being in London. I was eager to leave as soon as I could and get to the Alps for a ski season, knowing that the opportunities to take photos there would be incredible.....and they were.

Are there any particular things that really inspire you to shoot and film the things you do?

It depends on the project but my inspiration and joy is centred around producing work that I hope would leave people shocked or stunned in some way – a way that they didn’t expect an image to look or a portrait of themselves. Personally this is one of the biggest driving forces to shoot what I do, nothing beats the feeling of a client loving the work that was produced as much as I enjoyed creating it.

Tell us a bit about the latest project you worked on?

The last project I worked on was a series of black and white portraits featuring young black men and women. This was a series I needed to create in light of the current affairs and to support the Black Lives Matter movement. Racism makes me feel sick to the core and it’s something I still can’t seem to wrap my head around. It’s upsetting that we live in a world where it is still an issue and that there are people who can genuinely believe someone deserves less based on their skin pigmentation. It makes my blood boil and even writing this is aggravating me. I felt the series was necessary in order to highlight the beauty and graciousness in the black community. I hope, with all my heart that one day, maybe even within my lifetime racism is expunged.

You work on a massive variety of projects, how important is it for you to switch things up?

It’s incredibly important, it’s like playing a sport and training multiple aspects of your game so that you can be the best at that sport. Varying the types of projects I work on is imperative, this helps to ensure that I am well practised across the spectrum of photography which in turn helps me to be a better photographer overall. It’s very easy to slip into a pattern of just shooting your favourite things and subjects, and by doing so your workflow becomes refined and you lose that ability to be able to work on other projects.

I try to work on any project I can regardless of what it may be, as I see it as a way of increasing my skill set and versatility. It’s taught me more about photography than any video or seminar I’ve seen/attended. In essence, switching things up is the key to staying sharp and versatile as a photographer.

Do you see yourself specialising in one style in the future?

I’ve always had a deep love for portraiture and just simply capturing faces and I feel this something I’ll specialise in for the rest of my time as a photographer. Whilst I appreciate and love photography as a whole there’s something about imaging people that is incomparable. Black and white portraiture is my go to and I’m sure I’ll be specialising in that!

Who are you favourite Artists/ Photographers at the moment?

There’s an unbelievable amount of talented photographers and creatives who inspire me. Jason M Peterson has always and will probably always be one of my favourite photographer’s – he really does have a unique eye for it.

Do you have anything exciting coming up that you can tell our readers about?

As I said before, keep an eye out for my portraits; nickspeople is the place to go.

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