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The girl who shot 3,000 monks

Sristi Keshri has already had a brush with celebrities like Aditi Rao Hydari, Kiara Advani, Kareena Kapoor, and Manish Malhotra, thanks to her passion for Photojournalism and fashion photography. It's not just fashion she is interested in. As a student, she shot a series of photographs featuring monks and later it became a sensation. In the third year of her college, she joined Indian Express as a photo-journalist, again a rare feat for a teenager. Wait, she has also won many beauty pageants. Her dream: to get crowned as Miss World! In a chat with Team Fayz, Sristi Keshri traces her journey from a small hamlet in Bihar.

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I was born in Gaya, Bihar. Since childhood, I have been a very studious child. Along with my academics, I was interested in other co-curricular activities like painting, dancing, drama, art and culture. I still remember an incident when I was four years old. I was sitting next to my grandfather and was watching Miss world 2000 where Priyanka Chopra took the honours.

That was the first time in my life I came to know about beauty pageants and the show was really inspiring. After watching the show, I wanted to be the Miss World, just for the crown. After a few years, I read about astronaut Kalpana Chawla and her journey inspired me a lot. My young mind then drifted towards NASA and frankly, I dreamt of joining NASA. Likewise, I too got inspired by many personalities. That's what childhood is all about, right?

But one thing I was sure: cinema and fashion are close to my heart. After completing my Class X with good marks, I have opted for commerce. Strange, you might feel, but I was like that. Everything is an experiment, a learning process. I slowly developed an interest in business and commercial law, but somewhere deep inside, my passion for painting and creative artworks kept burning. That's perhaps why I decided to write NIFT entrance, with virtually no preparation. Finally, I got selected at NIFT Kolkata where I opted for Fashion Communication (a four-year course) as my core subject.

Basically, fashion communication includes a consolidated course study associated with different areas such as advertising, public relations, graphic design, fashion journalism, visual merchandising, space design, styling, photography, display, exhibit, creative writing, interaction design, new media design, etc.

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I caught the 'photography virus' when I was in the second year. Chhandhak Pradhan and Abhijit Pal was my photography teacher and under him, I started my career in Photo Journalism. I have done a portrait series of Bodh Gaya Monks and it turned out to be a huge success. After that project, I have documented and interacted with over 3,000 monks until now. After that, I have done many photo-journalism projects like 'Who Says There’s A Dhobi Ghat Only in Mumbai'? 'A city without the Zip Code', 'Insider and Outsider', 'An uncanny Sound' and many more. Since the first year, I started doing internships in different fields like graphics, visual merchandising, photojournalism, fashion photography and video editing. And finally, I found my interest in photography and videography. In the third year, I started working with Indian Express under the guidance of Mr. Neeraj Priyadarsini (National Photo Editor). Neeraj sir mentorship gave me an opportunity to learn from real working professionals. After seeing my work, Neeraj Sir told me to continue my Monk Project for The Indian Express. As part of my research for the said project, I crisscrossed Himachal Pradesh.

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As part of my stint with Indian Express, I could meet and interview Manish Malhotra, Sabyasachi Mukherjee, Rahul Mishra, Falguni Shane Peacock, TarunTahlani, Anita Dongre, Jade Monica and Karishma. She also covered the Indian Couture Week which comes under Fashion Desgin council of India in which she shot different celebrities like AditiRaoHydrai, KanganaRanaut, Kareena Kapoor, Shilpa Shetty, Kiara Advani and many more. After that, I have done my Graduation project from a photography/ Direction/ Cinematography agency called DEU Creative Management, one of the most reputed visual artist representation agencies in the country. The agency promotes and manages works of top international and Indian photographers, film directors, DOPs, and illustrators.

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At DEU, I got the opportunity to work with some of the best celebrity photographers and directors like Errikos Andreou and Nuno Oliveria. So far I have worked with celebrities like Kareena Kapoor, Aditi Rao, Kiara Advani, Shilpa Shetty, Katrina Kaif, Hrithik Roshan, Aamir Khan, Disha Patni, Jhanvi Kapoor, and Khushi Kapoor. I’m trying to explore my talents in different fields like photography, cinematography, styling and direction. I am also trying to fulfill my childhood dreams and luckily this year, I got selected as the Top Finalist in Miss Indian Contest and also won the competition of Miss India North Region Winner Title and Miss India Bihar Title.

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Sristi also has done one commissioned a project called ‘INSIDERS AND OUTSIDERS’ which includes the story of different sections of people from Mumbai. She also covered the Indian Couture where she shot different celebrities like Kangana Ranaut and Shilpa Shetty.

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The Uncanny Sound, one of my projects, was published in REVERIE Magazine. I don’t think that I’m the first person to say that a career should be treated as an experiment. The only reason I’m experimenting is to learn something new. Learning is the whole point, irrespective of what you do. Keep experimenting, keep learning.

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