I knew Prakriti Maduro, a Venezuelan actor, from when I lived in Los Angeles. She was recently in India for the premiere of her film Tamara at IFFI in Goa. We happened to bump into each other at the festival and were both excited at the idea of doing a shoot together.
Therefore, I invited her to Mumbai to brainstorm some ideas, and experience a little bit of the city, its colors, its chaos, its way of life. She said her fans would love to see her in a saree. I wanted to shoot outdoors with a wardrobe that would really stand out for its boldness and colors, as well as separate itself from the already visually dense scene in the city.
I was lucky to come across Radio Rani, a designer whose saree designs encompassed all of India’s traditional and pop culture. They were exactly what I had envisioned for the shoot. She loved the idea of shooting in the streets with Prakriti and came onboard. We got a very talented duo for the hair and make-up, and a stylist whose funky sense of style fit in perfectly with our sensibilities for the shoot.
Location and Its demands
An initiative called ‘The Bollywood Art Project’ had painted giant murals all across the neighborhood of Bandra. They depicted famous Indian film actors from the Golden Age of Indian Cinema. They were beautifully done and I thought they would make the perfect backdrop for some of the images. Unfortunately, many of the residents were not very happy with this development and had painted over most of the artwork. We had to hunt for the remaining ones in the tiny by lanes of Bandra, and were lucky to find a few.
Other challenges of working in the streets of Mumbai are its tight spaces and its heavy foot and vehicular traffic. At any given time, we had over sixty people surrounding us, trying to sneak photos and videos with their phone cameras, and disgruntled shop owners for bringing unwanted crowds and attention. We had to dodge cows, people, vendors, cars and some residents who did not want us shooting there. Besides these hurdles, we had a lot of shots to cover in various locations and not enough time between the hair, make-up, wardrobe changes and travel time to various locations.
The Lighting Set-up
I chose to keep my lighting set-up simple given the chaotic nature of the environment. We wouldn’t have had time for anything more. We had maybe 10-15 minutes per shot if we were lucky, before being mobbed by the crowds or asked to leave by residents. I needed something that delivered enough power to combat the outdoors, but at the same time, something that was light, consistent and fast.
I chose the Elinchrom ELB 400, which was the obvious and perfect choice. It is the most compact Battery Pack available and packs in quite a punch. With its 400 Ws power, its fast recycling time and steady power output, we could get the shots we needed under the given pressure of time and space.
Set-up: It was a simple one light set-up. For this I used the Elinchrom Quadra Living Light Set, which comprises of the Quadra Hybrid Battery Pack with a Pro Head as my main light along with a hand-held reflector.
Why use flash outdoors?
"I chose to use flashlights outdoors as we were going to be shooting from morning until late evening. Given the uncertainty of the locations and the risk of light being blocked by buildings and structures, I preferred to take control of the lighting no matter what space we happened to be in. I always prefer lighting an outdoor scene where I can mold the light instead of being stuck with a bad available lighting situation that I cannot control."
"I was truly amazed at what the compact unit could do in terms of ease of use, the output and consistency of colors."
About Bhargavi Joshi
Bhargavi Joshi, is an Indian-Canadian photographer. Having spent her life between Los Angeles, Toronto and Mumbai, opened her eyes to varied beauty but also exposed her to the harsh reality of certain situations and human condition. This inspired her to conceptually draw attention to problems by creating a strong visual imprint. Her approach is honest and her strength lies in conceptualizing and creative content.
Bhargavi is inspired by the world’s quirky characters, stories, causes and the fight for justice. Her openness to life and her love for people and knowledge helps her look deeper into the struggles and triumphs of the human spirit. She looks for beauty and humour in unconventional places resulting in work that speaks from the heart. She is committed to using her work to inspire people to make our world honest, rooted in love and a better place.
To know more about Bhargavi's approach to her work and life, visit www.bhargavijoshi.com