Anant Pandadiya wore a Rolex watch on one wrist and a Cartier bracelet on the other.
The second-year psychology student shoots and models for the lifestyle magazine called #THATOLIFE while photographing high-end fashion shoots around UCLA’s campus. In between work and school, Pandadiya uses seemingly mundane environments around campus to showcase high fashion.
Pandadiya first became interested in fashion while shopping at the mall in high school in San Diego. He shopped for hours without finding anything he was interested in, and came up with his own ideas about how he could improve clothing from Zara and Top Shop.
During summer 2016, Pandadiya and second-year business economics student Andy Nguyen decided to join the lifestyle magazine #THATOLIFE after coming across the creator through mutual friends. The pair said they hoped to use the magazine, which focuses on fashion, music and food, to build a platform for their passions for lifestyle.
Alongside #THATOLIFE, both he and Pandadiya are trying to take advantage of the fashion opportunities that Los Angeles provides, said Nguyen. By connecting with Los Angeles’ hosts of music, fashion and fitness experts, the pair has networked with designers like Natalie Ratabesi, the creative director for Vince, a clothing brand.
“Most students will get their degree, but they won’t abuse the fact that they are in LA,” Nguyen said. “I want people to realize that in LA, you can follow your dreams.”
Along with lifestyle articles about hip hop artist Heyzeus and going vegan on fruity pebble crips, #THATOLIFE features clothing brands like Pure xi. Pandadiya finds his own models and locations in order to shoot and showcase the fashion brands on the magazine site or his own Instagram, he said.
Pandadiya said models reach out to him to participate in shoots, or he posts on UCLA Facebook groups. Once he finds a model, he said he styles them himself, often using his own clothes.
Pandadiya highlights high-end clothing like Fear of God and St. Laurent. One model wore a white The Life of Pablo sweatshirt while kneeling in front of the waist-high net of the UCLA tennis court.
Since he does not have a car, many of Pandadiya’s shoots take place around UCLA buildings and stadiums. The locations have an aesthetic quality along with convenience, he said.
“Something about me is finding something unique in something people find so ordinary,” Pandadiya said.
Many of his pictures include brick walls or monotone gridded backgrounds that don’t look UCLA-related at first glance but are actually the bricks of the new Meyer and Renee Luskin Conference Center, a wall by Tom Bradley International Hall or the blue seating of the tennis courts.
Fashion photographer Jeffrey Leaf began shooting with Pandadiya after he reached out over Facebook in April. Both Leaf and Pandadiya followed each other’s work throughout their freshman year and began shooting and modeling for each other whenever they were free, said Leaf, a second-year English student.
One time the pair shot together in an abandoned house in Westwood. Both Leaf and Pandadiya wore minimalistic black and white clothing to contrast against the eerie lighting and white plaster background of the walls, Leaf said.
“(Pandadiya) is very good with finding places in the environment to mimic or relate to the outfits that his subjects are wearing,” Leaf said.
On campus, Pandadiya fits in fashion wherever he can, whether that means wearing a Rolex watch to Cafe 1919 or fashionable clothes to work out.
“Everyone has their own distinct style – it’s so different,” Pandadiya said. “That’s why I love this field so much.”
Contributing reports by Theater Film and Television editor Christi Carras.