Deciding their fate for the rest of their lives while studying together at National College of Arts (NCA) in the 90’s, the duo behind Deevees formally entered into the world of fashion photography in 1999. Ever since then, there has been no looking back for them.
In all these years, Deevees’s work has been published in about 95 per cent of the country’s magazines. They have shot almost all the models and actresses, including Sajal Aly, Mahira Khan, Mehreen Syed, Iqra Aziz, Saba Qamar, Maya Ali, Kubra Khan and Juggun Kazim to name a few. Since most of their work has been on the commercial side, they have also done many shoots for popular brands like Chinyere, Origins, Gul Ahmed, Rang Ja, Warda and Damas.
When Rizwan and Munazza started fashion photography, there were only two big names in the same field; Ather Shahzad and Khawar Riaz. It was a time when no one took photography as a career option.
“There was little scope. People often asked me what I did for a living… because photography wasn’t thought of as a field for earning money and making a career. But I knew I could do it. I had never done it before joining NCA, but after studying it as a minor subject for just one month, I told Munazza that I will only do photography in my life.”
In 2007, Deevees won its 1st Lux Style Award in the category of fashion photography.
The Deevees couple has been fortunate enough to have full support from their families throughout their careers. “My parents have always been very supportive. My father allowed me to do whatever I wanted to”, said Rizwan, to which Munazza added, “My parents also completely supported me in photography. Our parents are broad-minded. We have been lucky in this case.”
It was love that brought the two together while they studied at NCA and after that, photography became their common interest. But Munazza and Rizwan both feel that it is tough for spouses to be successful co-workers unless one of them has a flexible and compromising approach.
“It is not easy. There are a lot of disagreements. We used to argue a lot in the beginning. While Rizwan is stubborn, I am not. That’s why it worked for us”, said Munazza. Rizwan also commented, “I think most of the times when spouses work together, they have to face professional disputes and that’s why they prefer to work separately. One has to make compromises [to make things work]. At least one of the two should be flexible.”
“Fashion shoots were not a lucrative business when we started off. But it was thrilling, with a lot of space for experimentation. Also, we had to do something exciting, that’s why we chose fashion photography.” The duo does not take inspiration from anyone’s work because they feel that it leads one to start imitating others which takes away the uniqueness of one’s own work. Their biggest breakthrough was a cover of Libaas magazine which was the elitist and most expensive magazine of its time. “Neha Ahmed and Mehreen Syed were part of the shoot. It appeared in the magazine’s cover. After that, there was another cover by us [in the same magazine]. So, after a few repetitive covers from our side, people started noticing Deevees.”
Although fashion photography has been their strongest passion, the couple has also done over 14000 bridal shoots till date. “What made our bridal shoots different was that we, being a couple, could actually [demonstrate the] pose for the shoot. The couples felt comfortable that way… We did bridal shoots in the times when people were hesitant and had no experience of taking selfies. Today things are different. Everyone is so keen to get photographed.”
But Deevees is not into bridal shoots anymore. Instead, they have recently embarked upon bridal makeup because Munazza, who is the makeup artist of all the Deevees shoots herself, has been highly praised for her artistic skills by those who have seen her work and believe that she is a wonderful makeup artist.
Faith is what has kept the two strong and firm throughout their careers. They do not believe in socialising and keeping contacts alive only to make sure that the brand recognition that Deevees enjoys in the industry doesn’t fade away.
“We strongly believe that the work you are destined to do will come to you no matter what. I have faith in Allah. I would often refuse to work with certain clients but in a matter of months, they would come back to us. So, it’s Allah who gives you work.”
Rizwan further added, “When I chose photography, I had nothing but faith. Today I have a lot. The journey has been so good so far. There are no regrets. We have travelled to more than 15 countries, and today have become juror of various style and fashion awards… We have worked very hard and worked so much to date… Now we are at a point where we want to work according to our comfort only. Even when there is no work, we are at peace. We enjoy our time at home. [Yet] We are earning a good living without running after work.”
“Fashion industry has grown so rapidly [in Pakistan]. It is excelling in all areas including styling, designing and makeup. Today, due to social media, everyone is aware of the latest global trends in fashion. Our industry has come to a point where it can easily compete internationally. Our brands’ finishing is amazing. India is not even close to our industry… If we start doing international work with foreign models, we can do [even] better than the international photographers because their work is easier due to the fact that they have to deal with shorter clothes… Our clothes are too heavy to handle. Doing Bridals and Shalwar Kameez shoots are quite difficult [in comparison].”
According to the masterminds of Deevees, ever since social media has become popular, the magazines have started losing their value. Magazines that were once famous are now slowly closing down their businesses only because no one gets hold of a magazine anymore. Social media has made it all accessible to the masses quite quickly and easily, that too, on a global level.
“You can easily show your clicks to the world and get noticed. In the older times, it was a big deal to get your work published. But today [the drawback is that], quality has also suffered because of the ease and convenience of work offered by the technological advancement. Many of the photographers are using photoshop and filters to a great extent due to which most of the photography looks the same despite being aesthetically awesome… These days, anyone with a camera can be a photographer. Earlier, it was important to be technically sound. But now you can easily click anything and photoshop it [later]. Editing does the ‘perfection’ job. People are artistically sound today; on the technical side though, they are often weak.”
“We, the older photographers, still believe in doing things right in the first attempt of clicking pictures. We never work with keeping the editing factor in our minds. Today’s photographers work the other way around. They depend more on the editing.”
While giving advice to the younger lot aspiring to become photographers, Rizwan said that having a passion for photography and an aesthetic sense is very important, to begin with.