Monthly Archives: September 2012

Black And White And Shades Of Grey, Vol. 1

copyright Shivani Shah

It’s no secret I’m a fan of black and white photographs. With any given collection of my work, you will find that easily half of the photographs are in black and white. Why? I just like they look. It’s that simple. The colour doesn’t necessarily add something to the image, so I check almost every image to see how it looks in black and white. More often than not, I’m happier with the results.

This isn’t necessarily true for all types of photography, of course. It’s very important at weddings to have a good balance of black and white photographs, because I’m sure a lot of planning goes into the decoration, the menu, the lights, and of course the ever important bridal outfit. I can’t imagine too many couples would be thrilled with a wedding album entirely in black and white. The same reasoning applies to events, parties, showers, etc. as well. My favourite times to work in black and white are concerts and travel.

copyright Shivani Shah

Take this photograph of the building under construction in Hong Kong, as an example. The colour image was boring. BORING. Just blue skies, the blue sea, and a lot of buildings. With the black and white image, I’m actually not looking at any of that. The focus of my photograph has shifted entirely onto the giant crane and bamboos jutting out everywhere, which is where I wanted it to be in the first place.

Next time on Black and White and Shades of Grey: concerts.


Fashion Photography Street Style

There’s fashion photography, there’s street photography, and then there’s a combination of the two – street style photography. Among the most famous street style photographers and bloggers today is Scott Schuman aka The Sartorialist. He lives in New York City, which is undoubtedly one of the most fashionable cities in the world and home to several other street style photographers as well (there’s enough stylish gentlemen and ladies in New York for them all to shoot!)

New York City is also home to one of the biggest fashion weeks in the world, and I can only imagine how amazing that must be for street style photographers. New York Magazine created a short video with interviews from street style photographers doing their thing during fashion week. Even if it’s not the type of photography that interests you, it’s a good way to spend three minutes of your day to see how they do it.

Coffee Is The Solution To All Problems

copyright Shivani Shah

I’m a firm believer that coffee is the solution to all problems. When I’m upset, there’s nothing like a good cup of coffee to calm me down. When I’m tired, a good cup of coffee refreshes me. Coffee is the perfect beverage to catch up with old friends over. And I can safely drink several cups before the caffeine starts to kick in. Yes, up to a point coffee actually calms me down.

I once went four days without having a single cup and by the end of it was going bananas. While my friends were busy enjoying their cocktails on the beach, I switched from my mojitos to a strong Americano and didn’t say a word until I had finished every last drop. It may be time to accept the fact that I need caffeine rehab.

copyright Shivani Shah

Experimenting With Lights

copyright Shivani Shah

My first time shooting with artificial lighting was a Sunday afternoon in November 2011. I was bored, so I suggested to my sister and brother-in-law that we try some type of photography experiment. At this point I wasn’t aware that we had lights at home that we could work with, but after trying to figure out what we could do (with just the things we had at home), we decided to pull out the lights, scour the kitchen for props, and photograph some jewellery.

We tried various different sets using mugs, trays, all sorts of earrings and necklaces, and a black backdrop, but the best photos of the day were simple – a glass and a necklace. I learned several things that day, the most fun of which was playing with shadows. And sometimes, when it comes to accessorizing a shoot, less is more.

We had set up a shot and were taking a break when I noticed the light from the window filtering through the glass. I took a photo before we started using the lights again, and it might be my favourite photo the day.

copyright Shivani Shah

Like I said before, big fan of natural light.

Fly, Fly Away: Time-Lapse Video

Most of us have probably been on airplanes before, and for most of us that fly economy our view from the plane is probably obstructed by the giant wing. If you’ve ever wondered what it’s like to sit in the cockpit, pilot Jakub Vik has created this time-lapse video that sure to make the majority of non-pilots in this world jealous.

Vik took his camera with him to work and created this beautiful time-lapse that goes eight times faster than real-time. Watching the flights in and out of places like Prague and Nantes from this point-of-view might be a once in a lifetime opportunity for most of us, and that may be what makes this video such a pleasure to watch.

Colours Of The Sea

In December 2011, I visited Sri Lanka on what ended up being a fantastic college reunion of sorts. After an afternoon swim and delicious lunch on Unawatuna beach, a tiny Sri Lankan beach with clean, cold, gorgeous waters I could spend all day in, I took a walk to catch the sights and sounds and ended up getting this photo among several others. I looked out onto the water and saw this boat just floating on the sea. I could see people’s heads bobbing about near it, so I presume the occupants of the boat jumped off for a swim, but I kept them out of the frame because what first caught my eye really was just an empty boat out on the sea.

copyright Shivani Shah

And it really was so blue. During the day. The evening was an entirely different story. We had spent the next day at Cantaloupe Aqua and were all in food coma after an excellent – and very large – late lunch. We were just listening to music and sipping our cocktails when the sky suddenly turned a fiery orange. Within minutes, it was the deepest pink I had ever seen.

copyright Shivani Shah

The sky painted the ocean pink, and before I knew it the sun had set and it was completely dark. The best thing I learned that day was to always, always keep my camera handy. The sun set so quickly it would have been impossible to get this photo If I had packed the camera up because we were doing pretty much nothing. And that would have been a real shame.

From The Outside Looking In

My friend Esha Pandya is an extremely talented interior designer and part of Flamingo Interiors Pvt. Ltd., which recently designed a boutique in Mumbai’s Colaba area. She asked me to photograph the finished boutique for their portfolio, and I happily agreed. This was my first experience shooting interiors (and, well, the exterior also) and it was a challenging and learning experience.

The most important thing I learned early on in the shoot is that I’m a big fan of natural light. Seriously, big fan. That’s not to say that the store is badly lit. The lighting – and everything else about the design of the store – is absolutely fabulous. But after an hour of shooting indoors, when I stepped out and shot the interiors of the store through the open front door, I got the absolute best photograph of the day.

copyright Flamingo Interiors Pvt. Ltd.

As cheesy as this sounds, the store was bathed with natural light and looked absolutely beautiful. The Flamingo team personally oversaw every single aspect of the design from the marble and upholstery to the chandelier and mirror to create the French Baroque style of the store, and the natural light did justice to how elegant and gorgeous the store is.

They were also great with giving me direction and letting me know exactly what they were looking for with the photo, which is why we were done shooting the entire store in three and a half hours. Across my entire career (spanning three professions), I have never seen a team so efficient. Mad props to them for making my life easier! Towards the end of the shoot, when I’d been looking at the store through my viewfinder for over three hours, Esha asked me to step away from the camera and to just look at the store. That’s when I really paid attention to the details – the upholstery was champagne and pink, and the floor was cream and black. Those are important details to remember when you’re blurry-eyed at the computer trying to make sure the white balance and colours are accurate.

copyright Flamingo Interiors Pvt. Ltd.

To see more of their work, you can visit the Facebook page for Flamingo Interiors Pvt. Ltd.