Through my lens: Suraj Nongmaithem on creating stories that explore youth cultures, gender identity, and more

The artist's craft revolves around collaborative storytelling using colour, faces, clothing, and emotions to convey authenticity within the realm of fashion photography and beyond.

Through my lens: Suraj Nongmaithem on creating stories that explore youth cultures, gender identity, and more

Lifestyle photographers embracing realism and discovering fearless expression of identity in the landscapes of both fashion and culture in India. Born and brought up in Imphal, Manipur, 30-year-old photographer, Suraj Nongmaithem is dedicated to creating stories that explore youth cultures, gender identity, and more. He proudly represents the north-eastern community.

Suraj Nongmaithem

The essence of being a photographer lies in storytelling, weaving narratives that resonate not just with me but also with my community...

I was just a teenager when I forayed into the world of photography. Armed with a Sony Cyber-shot, I was capturing every aspect of life—from my travels to vibrant festivals and intriguing people. A great photograph, in my view, goes beyond mere visuals; it must evoke an emotion, serving as a source of inspiration in this digital age inundated with constant scrolling.

I strive to distinguish myself by embracing simplicity and realism infused with experimentation and creativity...

My work often revolves around collaborative storytelling, incorporating elements such as colour, faces, clothing, and emotions to convey authenticity, particularly within the realm of fashion photography. While the industry may be crowded, I believe there’s a niche for those who prioritise genuine expression and storytelling.

Image credits: Suraj Nongmaithem

Freedom signifies living without fear...

This is a sentiment I aim to capture through photography, particularly in my projects centred on the unapologetic self-identity of today’s youth. It is this portrayal of unfiltered expression that embodies the essence of freedom for me.

I find solace in working on projects that hold personal significance...

Navigating the digital era presents its challenges, including the pressure of online validation through likes and followers. One such endeavour is a series of photographs documenting the fearless expression of identity among the youth of our country through their clothing choices. This project aims to spotlight how fashion serves as a powerful form of self-expression for Gen-Z, capturing their boldness and individuality. Through these photographs, I hope to offer a glimpse into the evolving landscape of youth culture in contemporary India.

Image credits: Suraj Nongmaithem

This article originally appeared in Cosmopolitan India Magazine, May-June 2024 print issue.

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