Reinvent yourself every now and then
As a photographer and more specifically a fashion-photographer one needs to be receptive to and embrace new trends in fashion as well as Photography. Sue Mue is one of my regular and more demanding patrons. They are a fashion house which started out in 1968 in New Delhi and have reinvented themselves every now and then. And have a loyal clientele which extends to several generations – sometimes within the same family. I shoot their product catalogues. But I also work on specific shoots around occasions like Mother’s day. These days I am increasingly asked to shoot non-models for these kinds of shoots as it brings in a spirit of freshness and relevance which is needed to connect with the audience. This year for the mother’s day three families were approached for the shoot.
Planning an intimate photo session
First is Priyanka Raina, wife of ace Indian cricketer Suresh Raina. Second is Ritu Sikri, a loyal client of Sue Mue. And third is Surbhi Sethi, a renowned fashion blogger with the title of Head Tilt. Bespoke ensembles were designed and given to each of the families for the day of the shoot. The turnaround time for sharing the final images was less than 24 hours after the last family was photographed. I was also asked to not bring in a lot of equipment as we were shooting the families at their homes. The choice gravitated towards Alpha 7s as I would be required to shoot in all kinds of lighting and the images were going to be published only digitally- on Sue Mue blog and social media channels. For shaping the light, I opted for a speed-light which would be used on an off-camera mode- with diffusers and all. The choice of lenses was easy -Batis.
Choosing the right equipment
Batis in my opinion offers the perfect balance- of optical brilliance, optimal size/weight and reliably accurate auto-focus. Auto-focus was critical to the assignment as an average shooting time was less than 90 minutes including setting up. And we had to make the families comfortable to our presence and try out different spaces at their homes for a variety of frames. The thing I love as an artist about prime-lenses is something more aesthetic than technical. When we work with prime lenses we are forced into thinking about frames possible with the same angle of coverage that a fixed lens imposes. Also the final images have a homogeneous quality- as choices of composition and perspective are limited by the focal lengths available.
In my case I was working with only ZEISS Batis 1.8/85 and 2.8/135. And 90 percent of images were made through the 85mm. I was bending in uncomfortable and precarious positions with my hands close to glass-ware and expensive paintings. This is where the Sony Alpha mirror-less camera system with its small weight is a game-changer. Also notable is the fact that with a small camera-lens combination I could come across more informal as a photographer and put women at ease as they sit in front of a stranger. ZEISS bokeh is gorgeous and uniform as all the SLR and mirror-less lenses sport a nine-bladed aperture diaphragm. The final images , in my opinion, have a luminous visual quality which evokes a feeling of intimacy and lightness. This is perhaps a fair manifestation of close-bonds women share with their mothers and daughters.
About the Author
Sundeep Bali is a lens-based artist and commercial photographer and leads LightINsight Creatives. Bali was trained to be an arts management professional. He accorded a US Fulbright Fellowship in Visual Arts before he became a full-time photographer. Commercially, Bali shoots fashion, arts/performances, events, locations and weddings.
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