Reuben Selby’s Postcards from Bangalore

The London-based fashion disruptor on how travel informs creativity.

Bangalore, India


UPDATE: In light of the COVID-19 pandemic’s impact on travel, we’ve followed up with each of our VMAN CITY GUIDE subjects from VMAN43. Below, we follow Reuben Selby, fashion-industry entrepreneur and one-time globetrotting photographer, from Bangalore to London. 

REUBEN SELBY I run a tech-driven modeling agency, but before starting my company, I was a photographer. One job took me from Bangkok to Bangalore, India. In Bangalore, we stayed in a hotel with incredible views of the city. I woke up, jet-lagged, at 5 a.m., and saw what looked like thousands of horses and trainers rounding this course in the distance—quite a sight at the crack of dawn. My friend and I spent the morning planning how we’d get in. We found [the tag] on Instagram, and started messaging people. We just reached out to all these young [horseback riders], until one said he’d let us in.


[It turned out to be] a private club called Bangalore Turf Club. I didn’t have much context, but it was clear that riding culture was really tied into the city’s cultural fabric, and that there was a hierarchy to it. In this society, being a horse-rider or jockey was very much celebrated. Each of these young guys had a horse and a trainer who looked after it. Whereas in England, it has a totally different [connotation]. [Most] teenagers, particularly males, wouldn’t be caught dead riding a horse.


As a photographer, it’s all about finding [experiences like this]— discovering different ways of telling the same story. You can be in Bangalore watching boys ride horses, or in Bangkok watching them practice Muay Thai, or in the U.K. watching football. They are similar stories, but each has its own resonance.



VMAN Where are you these days? And how are you?


REUBEN SELBY I’m cooped up at home in London. It’s a difficult time for everyone, but I’m staying positive. 


VMAN In your print story for VMAN, you talk about how travel-based photography jobs were an opportunity to reflect peoples’ stories from around the world. Given today’s restrictions on travel, how have you been feeding that creative instinct lately?    


RS The spare time has given me the opportunity to look internally and focus on the process rather than the outcome. I’ve been doing a lot of abstract painting, I find it really therapeutic and it allows me to switch off. 

VMAN You now run an agency for connecting models/fashion professionals through non-traditional channels. How have you been applying your business model in light of the COVID-19 crisis?    


RS Contact allows brands to book models directly and streamlines the booking process. When you come to the platform you can create a job and start discovering new models. You can also filter your search by many different attributes including hair and eye colour as well as specific hobbies. The next step is to make a selection of the models you would like to offer then you can submit the job. Once a job has been vetted and approved by Contact, the offer goes straight out to all the models who were shortlisted. The client gets instant updates if a model accepts or declines and then can confirm their final selection. 


Being a digital platform, we haven’t been hit too hard by COVID-19. However, all jobs across the board have been frozen and physical shoots are not taking place. We’ve had to make adjustments to encourage digital jobs and find new ways for brands to work with our talent. 

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