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The fotoshoot

The principal reason for my going to Hyderabad was to do a fotoshoot for Ganesh so that we can create a really good look for the catalog, web site and image in general.

I’ve done some friends’ weddings and a couple of model shoots before, and last year I set up a mini studio in my house in Andora, so a few things I know. Here I already knew there was a good terrace I could work with/on, so I was already thinking of doing an outdoor studio before arriving.

The fotoshoot was originally planned to be done in the houses of two of Ganesh’s friends; in the end this didn’t happen so we shot in the living room of his apartment. Which was good in one sense because everything was to hand.

In the days before the model shoot I designed and built the outdoor studio with PVC piping, making it capable of being disassembled and reassembled because I was planning on using parts of it “on location”. This took a while, partly because I was dependent on Ganesh to take me everywhere, partly for the novel way I was going to use household supplies and this meant dealing with the supply stores, the managers of which spoke mostly Telugu.

The experience was frustrating for Ganesh because that meant he had to drive me everywhere so he wasn’t in his studio working, and frustrating for me because I’m used to being quite independent and autonomous – and time driven, American style. Ganesh was awesomely patient with my impatience. Thanks mate!

Ganesh lined up two friends of his as models, both extremely attractive college graduates who offered to pose for the shoots. Soon after Maria dropped out, leaving just Purnimah. We also learned that the person who had bought sarees from Ganesh for her daughter’s wedding, and who had very kindly said he could borrow them for the shoot, didn’t want anyone to wear them before her daughter did. Very understandable.

That meant, of course, that the sarees could only be shot on a mannequin. So, before we did the model shots, we did the wedding saree shots in my white-tented, outdoor studio. Which was absolutely great, except when the wind blew or it got too hot under the sun. We also shot some fabrics so that the catalog is more complete.

The model shots we did indoors in the living area. Purnimah was a delight. She wore some of Ganesh’s western styled apparel, so the look was quite distinct from the saree shots. The biggest challenge was her Julia Roberts smile. As a portrait shooter I wanted to capture her personality, which meant capturing that fantastic smile; Ganesh (and Purnimah’s mother (who was there out of curiosity and as chaperone) desperately kept on telling her not to smile – correctly of course, given the objective of the shoot, which is to draw the viewer’s attention to the clothes, not the person. Which meant I kept trying to crack jokes to get her to break up. Worked a few times, hehe.

The flash units worked almost perfectly every time, which was really good because until then I had worked exclusively with hot lights. Now I’m hooked on flash.