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Ash Gupta is a Friend to the Stars

1 year ago / by ABHIJIT MASIH
Ash Gupta

Ash Gupta’s studio, home and heart are forever open for creative minds and the welcoming coffee is always brewing. His passion brought him from Lucknow in India to that cauldron of creativity—Los Angeles. He has photographed innumerable top models, artists and celebrities, both in Hollywood and Bollywood. 

The names? They include Ben Affleck, Jennifer Lawrence, Elizabeth Shue, Dominique Swain, Davis Guggenheim, Kyle Eastwood, Bai Ling, Fred Durst, Richie Sambora, Preity Zinta, Madhavan, Jacqueline Fernandez, Pooja Batra and Mallika Sherawat. The list of artists he has photographed called for a feature over two issues of the magazine.

photographer ash gupta
Ash Gupta with Preity Zinta

We thought of showcasing some of his fabulous pictures in that order of his progression – showcasing his pictures of the Hollywood stars first, in this special issue on entertainment. To curate the pictures, Gupta went through each image and narrated the story behind it, along with anecdotes from the shoot.

Gupta moved to the U.S. in 1989, pursuing his love and his future wife, Shalini. The initial years were spent assisting other celebrated photographers and perfecting his craft. He moved from New York to Los Angeles in 1992, gravitating towards the center of glamor and fashion. It was much later that he decided to start off on his own. Ash’s first brush with Hollywood was with the daughter of childhood icon Bruce Lee. 

Shannon Lee had just lost her brother Brendan a couple of years earlier and was a nervous wreck at the shoot. Gupta, who was nervous himself, confessed his anxiety to Lee. That helped her relax. This ability to break the ice and make people comfortable has held him in good stead, and earned him a growing number of friends within the industry.

Gupta is the founder of 838 Media Group, a creative studio in Los Angeles that focuses more on forging friendships than connections, and provides a platform for young creative minds to thrive under his guidance. Through his company, Gupta mentors a small group of talented actors, filmmakers, and photographers, aiding and directing them to their goals in the entertainment industry. He aims not just to take fabulous pictures and make attractive people look even more gorgeous, but to make his work spectacular based on the friendships he forges. 

Gupta lent SEEMA his lens to witness his beautiful world of glamor, fashion,  celebrities and friends.

  • Kyle Eastwood – The musician son of the Hollywood legend. The jazz musician is the eldest son of Clint Eastwood who took to music. He has contributed to the musical score for the academy award-winning films “Mystic River” and “Million Dollar Baby.” Gupta often lends his personal accessories for shoots. So in the film, Clint Eastwood wears the photographer’s cool sunglasses.
photographer ash gupta
  • Sophia Bush – Filling the canvass. The “John Tucker Must Die” actress is the daughter of Charles Bush, an iconic photographer, which obviously made her of particular interest to Gupta. The shoot was at a high-elevation apartment in Manhattan with polarized glass all around. That made it easier for him to control the lighting. 
photographer ash gupta
  • Jennifer Lawrence – The shoot, which cme much before “Hunger Games” made her a superstar, was not a scheduled one. Lawrence came in with a friend of Gupta, who was shooting some East European models. Lawrence, who was a greenhorn before the camera then, requested Gupta for his wifi password while she waited, hoping to learn the basics of posing for the camera during her two-hour wait. Talk about diligence.
  • Richie Sambora – The guitar god behind the signature riffs of Bon Jovi had given instructions for a crew of only 4 for the photo shoot. The venue was the opulent suite of a plush hotel in Beverly Hills. A four hour delay for Richie to arrive was initially perceived to be the trappings of stardom. However the delay was caused due to some technical snag in the private jet which was to bring Richi Sambora from Chicago to LA. The rockstar did call Ash from the jet and apologized and extended his hospitality to the team, while they waited in the suite.  
  • Ben Affleck – The photo shoot was for the promotion of the 2007 film “Gone Baby Gone.” The location Gupta picked happened to be opposite the house of Jennifer Lopez, Affleck’s ex. It was an amusing starting point for a conversation with the Academy award-winning actor and director.
photographer ash gupta
  • Alyssa Milano – The “Charmed” actress had recently returned from India and had incredible stories to share about Mumbai and Varanasi and her new-found love for samosas; which Gupta promptly ordered for her and the crew from a nearby Indian restaurant.
  • Fred Durst – The front man of Limp Bizkit, for some reason, made Gupta and himself wait for an imaginary stylist to arrive for the photoshoot. When the wait had tested his patience enough, Gupta turned stylist, as he had done numerous times before, gave Durst one of his own Tees, and grabbed a Russian jacket and a hat to shoot this mellow image of the lead vocalist of the metal band.
photographer ash gupta
Davis Guggenheim & Elisabeth Shue
  • Davis Guggenheim & Elisabeth Shue – Though Elisabeth Shue, perhaps might be considered the bigger star in the marriage, Gupta was a bigger fan of her husband, Davis, the director of the Oscar-winning documentary “An Inconvenient Truth” and other well-known documentaries on U2, Malala Yousafzai and Bill Gates. A fan of the visual arts, Gupta made him sit atop the couch, bringing him out of the shadow of Elisabeth and into the rightful spotlight.
  • Bai Ling – He is an international star, with some great roles in films like “Red Corner” with Richard Gere and “Anna and the King” with Jodie Foster. However, the free-spirited entertainer is best remembered for her outrageous and risqué outfits. Gupta helped the actress get rid of that image, and was perhaps instrumental in steering her towards her current popular persona on Instagram.
photographer ash gupta
  • Dominique Swain – Gupta tried attempting to recreate the forbidden love depicted in “Lolita” (1997). He used the film’s poster as a backdrop, with Dominique hiding her younger self on the poster with her adult self. The red outfit and the lip color raised the temperature perhaps more than the film did.