Hey everyone! It’s been a while since my last editorial, but I think this one will be worth the wait! I was super excited to be involved in this shoot because my friend Zaheer asked me to come on board as the stylist to help create his vision. Zaheer and I met while shooting Assignment Fashion’s editorial “Vintage Sport” with photographer Inga Avedyan. We immediately clicked and I picked up so many amazing tips while watching him on set that day. I was so surprised afterward to hear that he is completely self taught! This is super rare since makeup schools are all the rage these days. It certainly takes a special talent and tenacity to become a pro like Zaheer without even just a couple classes. Nonetheless, Zaheer proves that hard work and dedication can sometimes get you farther ahead than a diploma on a piece of paper.
Below is my interview and editorial that I shot with Zaheer.
Art Director: Zaheer Sukhnandan
Photographer: Zaheer Sukhnandan
Makeup Artist & Hair Stylist: Zaheer Sukhnandan
Wardrobe Stylist: Kelsey Adlem
**All jewelry pieces featured are by Leah Alexandra**
Kelsey: What brought you into the fashion industry?
Zaheer: I started off as an amateur photographer. I always loved playing with my dad’s camera, it was just something fun for me. A few years ago in October I wanted to put together a little Halloween shoot with some friends. I was in grade 11, so I obviously didn’t know anyone in the industry. Since I am portrait artist as well I figured I could probably do the makeup too. So I went to Shoppers, grabbed a bunch of random products, and tried my very best to put together the project. Looking back at the photos they are absolutely hilarious and awful but at the time I was really proud of them and it’s what made me get into this industry.
After being pushed by friends, and slowly meeting others in the industry, I realized makeup and hair styling was something I was super interested in, so I decided to pursue it. I put photography on hold, but I slowly started getting back into about a year ago.
After graduating highschool and working with as many photographers as possible in Kelowna, as well as shooting a bit on my own, I decided to move on. I had already been pretty involved in the fashion industry at that point. I had tried fashion styling, makeup artistry, hair styling, art directing, and photography. However, I realized that art directing, makeup, and hair were my real passions and what I felt most comfortable doing.
Kelsey: So you’re originally from Kelowna. What brought you to Vancouver and where do you plan to go from here?
Zaheer: I decided to move to Vancouver in January 2016 because it was close to Kelowna, but offered much more opportunity to grow and develop as a young artist. Since being here I’ve been living on my own, but I’ve met some really great people in the industry who I’ve had the opportunity to work with and also call my friends. Being only 18 years old can definitely make it a bit harder to work in this industry, but I am incredibly determined and passionate and I’d like to think I’ve managed to do a decent job so far.
As for the future, Vancouver is just a stepping stone for me. I have experienced so much here on my own and I’ve learned a lot as an artist too. I have some plans on moving and an idea of where I plan to go from here, but I like to keep my big plans for the future a secret – haha.
Kelsey: A lot of your shoot concepts come from your own ideas and you are also frequently the art director during the shoot process. Where do you get you inspiration and ideas from?
I actually get asked a lot how about I come up with the moods for my shoots and I really don’t have a precise answer. Sometimes I just see something that really inspires me and it makes me think of a project. This city really inspires me. Things like loud noises, fast and slow moving traffic, and the lights that illuminate the city at night. I tend to keep things quite minimal, but I like my work to have a very moody, grungey feel to it.
Kelsey: What helped you come up with the concept and different looks for ARCANE (this shoot).
Zaheer: The inspiration for this shoot was very colourful, but also hazy. Kind of like a rainbow behind clouds. I named the story Arcane because it means understood by few, or mysterious. That’s the vibe I wanted this story to give off. It’s pretty and colorful but it’s also a little blurred so the small details are somewhat unclear.
Kelsey: How do you go about picking the models for your shoots?
Zaheer: When it comes to picking my models I ALWAYS look at their eyebrows – haha. It’s so important to me! Anyone with lovely bushy brows, or a striking face I’ll probably love. I definitely pick my models depending on the mood of the project as well, so softer looking girls for lighter airier projects and edgier looking girls for moodier projects.