Allow me to introduce myself; my name is Bal Bhatla aka @mrwhisper. I’m a London based photographer and I’m hyped to be the guest on this week’s blog. I’ll be sharing my story of how I turned my passion for photography into a full time career, followed by a selection of my favourite projects.
Before I became a commercial photographer, I worked full time as a digital creative director in a variety of ad agencies in London for just over 12 years. During the last few years, I noticed how social media was becoming increasingly important within the campaign work I was doing. Simultaneously my personal Instagram account was growing at a steady pace, and I began to get commissioned by notable brands like Lonely Planet, Jaguar, and Adidas to name a few. In the back of my mind I began thinking that perhaps one day I could leave my full-time role to become a freelance commercial photographer working directly with brands.
So about five years ago, I quit my job and decided to freelance as a creative director, which would then afford me the time and flexibility to see if I could make this photography dream a reality.
Fast forward two years and I was lucky to be receiving enough commissioned work to just focus on photography full time. Since then I’ve been on an incredible journey working with some pretty cool brands.
I’m a street photographer at heart, and this is what drives me to keep making images everyday. However I don’t let this limit what I do commercially. During my career my portfolio has been built up with a variety of genres (fashion, cars, travel, alcohol, and sports and film), and below are just a few highlights from the memorable projects I’ve worked on.
Star Wars Rogue One x Disney
Commissioned to create a small series of London based images, which would visually draw comparisons to the locations and themes used within the movie.
When Disney first approached me for this gig, I thought it was someone playing a prank, however after a few meetings and receiving the brief I knew this dream job was 100% real. Surprisingly I was given almost complete creative freedom to create the series of 5 images. Some Star Wars specialists supported me to ensure the scenes being created would be plausible within the Rogue One world, as I certainly didn’t want to upset the huge fan base who are particularly protective about the storylines.
All the props used in the shoot were originals from the movie, which meant that I had security with me on the day of the shoot.
The series of images were then displayed at the Films Premiere in the cinema Lobby.
I was also invited to get some exclusive shots of the Cast at the Launch party held at the Tate Modern.
Narcos x Netflix
I flew out to Bogota, Colombia to shoot portraits of the main cast members of the hit Netflix series Narcos.
Sadly there was no moustache as he had finished all his scenes for the series. However, it was great to meet Wagner, especially as I’m such a huge fan of the show. The best part was when he stopped the shoot to discuss my Fuji X-T1 (my camera at the time), which proved to be a great ice breaker.
Shot on set in-between takes, literally had less than 5 minutes to get the shot.
To celebrate the UK launch of the brand new Audi A4, I was asked to come up with a concept for a series of 5 images for their social campaign. I was given the car for 24hrs, and here are a couple of my favourite shots from the night shoot I decided to do.
ROUX – A London Based Fashion Label
I’ve had the pleasure of working on a few fashion projects, but one label I’ve worked with consistently and built up a good relationship with over the years is ROUX. The label is heavily embedded within the Soho, London history and culture and therefore was the ideal choice of backdrop for this shoot for their lookbook.
Timberland Europe for Hypebeast Magazine
Timberland released a new boot called the Flyroam designed for the city, and so they asked me create a small series on the streets of London.
Bombay Sapphire – Artistry Of The Ultimate Gin and Tonic
This was a slightly different project than what I’m normally used to. Bombay Sapphire invited six of London’s leading mixologists to create their take on the ultimate gin & tonic. My role was two-fold. Firstly I was to present the final creations as they were unveiled at an exhibition at the Bombay Sapphire distillery to the media, and secondly then travelled to each of the mixologists respective bars to shoot them creating their innovative drink in situ.