As a photographer, Priya Oades is driven by connection.
Whether they’re shooting the frenzy of a protest or making portraits of musicians backstage, it’s about creating a link between documenter and subject. “I’ve always been drawn to more authentic representations of people, art and culture,” she says.
Despite the fact they are, relatively speaking, at the beginning of their journey in photography (Oades only started taking photos “with intent” last year), there’s a confidence in the work that belies its maker’s years.
“In terms of subject matter, I think the best results come when you’re passionate about something,” says Oades. “My passion for music and culture definitely allows me to create more authentic work whilst also feeling personally fulfilled.”
The photographer, who is based between Norwich and London, is currently using a Canon 700D. In the latest instalment of Photographers In Conversation, created in collaboration with MPB, she reflects on her journey so far.
What drives your work?
My work is very much driven by creating representation in the music and arts industry. Alongside photography I run a collective called Stripped Sets, putting on live music, club nights and Queer parties for Black, Asian, Queer, non-binary and women artists and performers. I view my photography work as another way to create stylised representation of these groups through visual work.
How did Green Room Portraits come to be?
My Green Room Portraits collection first started when I moved back to Norwich in December. I started going to gigs at Norwich venue Voodoo Daddy’s and saw a massive shift in the diversity of artists that were coming through Norwich. I then created a developing concept, encapsulating the artists’ personalities behind their art through stylised photography. From there, the collection has grown and expanded to venues across Norwich and London.
What in your opinion makes a great portrait?
In my opinion, a great portrait is created through connection. It’s so important for me to form a relationship with my subject. I’ve found that my best work is created when I really learn about an artist and they reciprocate the same energy. This is why I always take green room portraits after soundcheck soon before their performance – that’s when artists tend to be the most emotionally open which is what I aim to capture through my work.
Have you ever felt like you have something to prove as a photographer, even if just to yourself?
I do feel like I have something to prove; as a queer woman of colour in the creative industries, I spend a lot of my time gaining respect from my peers in a male-dominated space. Whilst this does motivate me to create opportunities for other creatives from marginalised backgrounds, there is a level of pressure to constantly be producing good work, both for myself and for others.
What’s the key to developing one’s own style?
I think the key to developing your own creative style is to keep taking opportunities that come your way, even if they aren’t in your area of interest. My stylised aesthetic has definitely developed gradually as I started gaining new skills and experiencing different forms of photography and editing – it’s also okay for your style to change and grow with you.
What’s the best advice you’ve ever been given?
I’m definitely guilty of placing too much pressure on myself when it comes to setting goals about who I want to work with and where I want my work to go. I often forget that I’m only 22 and I’m constantly being reminded by those around me that I don’t need to rush through my 20s; creativity doesn’t have an expiration date. I’m also deeply motivated by the lyrical stylings of one of my favourite artists, Little Simz. I take her words as a personal mantra through all my pursuits.
Photographers In Conversation is a series produced in partnership with MPB, the world’s largest online platform for visual storytellers to buy, sell and trade in used photo and video kit. MPB makes kit more accessible and affordable, helping to visualise a more sustainable future.
See more of Priya Oades’ work on their official website.