Some of commercial photographers’ best projects are their personal ones, destined to remain veiled for some time. This beauty shoot took place almost a year ago in India and is among my most treasured.
There is a curious and adventurous story behind it. My third business trip to India was to document a lovely wedding of Sonia and Jonathan in Kolkata. The guys live in Hyderabad where they invited me before their wedding. My previous trips and the wonders of social media allowed me to have built a little friend base among the Hyderabad’s photographers, so I thought I could meet some of them while staying with my couple. It worked out, and soon I was sitting in a cafe having my fruit litchi smoothie with a prominent photographer Josh Komanapalli of The Photography Co. It was during that hangout when the idea of an impromptu beauty shoot out came up. I asked to arrange for a model and stylist, he made a few calls, and we met the following afternoon. The stylist could not make it but we had a young beautiful lady, Mary Paul, who is not only a model, but also a photographer, designer, and a talented artist of Doodle Bug by Mary Paul.
Loaded in the car, we set off to the outskirts of Hyderabad to an epic location where the soil had been excavated in such a way that the trees were left standing on the colossal pedestals. As soon as I saw them, my mind started going sick with the ideas but we left the trees for later, starting outside the crater. The approach was simple—to casually wander around and take turns in implementing own ideas. Two people came with Josh, offering assistance as well.
My take on this unexpected opportunity was to combine traditional with edgy in posing, concept, and technique. The beauty shoot went on for three hours through the sunset. The time ran out for all of my ideas (we just couldn’t start earlier) and we decided to meet the following morning. Sadly, on my way back to Sonia and Jonathan’s home that night, I lost my phone in the dark auto (a.k.a. tuk-tuk or auto rickshaw), causing quite a distress and a culprit for my other carefully planned Instagram documentary project, Zorz Goes India (awkwardly, it still worked out). Spending the following morning visiting the police station and arranging for a replacement means of communication for the rest of the long India trip, I had to skip the second part of the beauty shoot which took place without me.
Sonia and Jonathan’s wedding, the arrangements by Josh, presence of Mary, and the beauty shoot itself feel like a true blessing to me. These images will be cherished and marveled for years, and possibly not just by me. It is worth pointing out that one of the images below, named Esca(V/L)ation, was featured and well regarded at the charity auction “Modern Masters of Photography” through Josephine Herrick Project, the non-profit organization through which I volunteer to teach photography. The art piece is now displayed on a beautiful 20×30 canvas in one of art-loving New Yorker’s home.
Click any image to enlarge and enjoy to the fullest.
And a bit of behind-the-scenes: first, the litchi smoothie which helped sweeten our way into the beauty shoot arrangements; riding in the car to the shoot location—the last shot by my phone before it was lost; and the snapshots from the charity auction, showing the Esca(V/L)ation among other works.
UPDATE 01/16/15: How could I have forgotten? The Esca(V/L)ation art piece is also hanging in my Manhattan studio! It was masterfully transferred to a 24×36-inch wood panel (pictured in the upper left corner below) and can be seen among other studio works and decor elements, introduced on the studio space description page.