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Portraiture, as an art form, is much older than photography. Great portrait masters have spent their lives learning this art. Vikas Sharma, a self taught photographer, finds himself in the same pursuit. He shares some of the rules of portrait photography, with the hope that one breaks them.

1. Eyes do the Talking

They are the foundation of a portrait. What do you want to do with them? Strong eyes, spontaneous, piercing, dull, happy or sad? Eyes looking away from the camera? Or closed, perhaps? Look at the subject’s eyes and decide what kind of story they speak. You can read the subject’s mind just by looking into their eyes.

2. Composing the Story

Just as an artist draws on his blank canvas, think about how will you compose within your viewfinder. Are you going to show the surrounding or just a blank background? Again, this will be dictated by what you want to show in your portrait.

3. No Talking at the Back

The strongest portraits are the ones, which emphasise the subject by using a simple blank background. Keep things simple, unless there is something really exciting in the background that complements the story. If you are unable to control the background due to the limitation of a studio, use a shallow depth of field to blur out the background.

4. Light-up Your Thoughts

While this is an infinite subject in itself and the most important one too, keep it simple. Keep it soft. Look at how great artists like Rembrandt have played with it. Think about what you want to achieve. Will it be flat? Is it low key? Or high key? Will, it has the dimension or will it have drama? Will it be warm or cold? Or perhaps a combination of all these. Whatever you decide make sure the picture is about the subject and not your lighting talent.

5. The subject of the Discussion

Know your subject, make them comfortable. They should enjoy and have fun. Nervous or uncomfortable subjects don’t make good portraits. Don’t even show them a camera unless you know they are ready for the picture. If possible meet the subject in an informal setting before the day of the planned shoot. Get to know them and listen to their stories. It will give you ideas on what kind of portrait you want to shoot.

Also if you are a begainer, then make sure to:

a) Invest in a good portrait lens

– 60mm to 135mm is a good focal length range.
– Get a fast lens with the aperture of 2.8.

b) Pre-plan on lighting

– Be ready with a reflector if you are shooting outdoors.

c) Shoot a million pictures

– You definitely can with a digital camera.
– Try different angles, get high or down low.
– Focus on the eyes.

d) Use an aperture setting

– Between 1.4 to 8, depending on the lens.

e) Always shoot camera raw

– Do not apply any in-camera filters like contrast, saturation etc.
– Keep all those things for postproduction in Photoshop.

f) Learn Photoshop

– It’s your darkroom of the digital age. Commercial images today are 30% photography and 70% Photoshop.

Published in Issue 17

We tried to capture the time of chaos and confusion we all are in. How it inspires and influences creative thoughts. Starting with the cover design by Ankur Singh Patar, who captures the duality in the way we treat women. Followed by a conversation with Italian illustrator Giulio Iurissevich who explores beauty behind this chaos. And many more inspirational articles to explore.

 

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Creative Gaga - Issue 47

 

Generating stories and translating them into photographs doesn’t seem like a cakewalk, but Avinash Jai Singh’s work makes it look like it. Illustrations supported with compelling messages and eye-catching colours and visuals appeal (photography) to the youth and engulf the audience.

Photography

Many times, the influences and the exposure one receives as a child, gives one a certain direction in life. Something similar happened with Avinash, a photographer and an illustrator from North India who carved his own path to success.

Photography
Photography

He grew up in Panipat, the hub of the textile industry and his observations of the colours around him generated a love for visual arts and gave him a perspective to understand lighting, forms, shapes and portraits. Avinash was always fascinated by lifestyle magazines and his world changed when he started his actual learning process in a college in Delhi. Finally, he had his aha moment when he was on a trip to Kashmir doing a series on the lives of people, where he realised that photography was what he wanted to do all his life.

Photography

For Avinash, the story and mood behind a picture take the lead and is as important as the technical factors involved. He believes that they are interdependent and essential if there’s a story, the mood can be captured and if there’s a certain mood, a fresh story can be generated. He hears the conversation of visuals in mind and his way of story-telling comes out in the form of photographs depicting bold shapes and forms. Always careful about the colour pallet involved, he doesn’t like to add too much colour and rather believes in using it in proportions that add an edge to picture than causing distraction. Except for this, even lighting plays a major role especially in black and white photography, where the subject dictates the mood and mood dictates the lighting.

Apart from photography, Avinash is also an artist with a quirky vibe to his illustrations. Contemporary designs which deliver a message with a touch of modernity and minimal colours popping, he creates illustrations which have an impact on the audience. Collaborating with other artists as well, he strikes a balance between his art and the way he captures it through his camera’s lens. Crisp and neat lines with bold and chic colours, catch one eye immediately. Avinash also develops art-series which talk about a particular topic accompanied by his interpretations through art and photography.

Photography

One of them is the gender bender series where he has captured images depicting humans as a “genderfluid”, taking an important stance for the decriminalisation of sec 377. Backing up his work with powerful and effective captions, the overall effect of the art is noteworthy. The series showcases a person who sometimes a boy, girl or someone in between but ultimately a human who is equal and respectful. Avinash’s personal favourite works include Downtown and Google.org which have an amazing visual impact on the audience. His varied portrayals of love, photography shoots for Jabong and a poster campaign for MTV display regular things with a blend of art and photography.

Photography

Avinash uses software like Photoshop and Capture One to enhance his photographs and takes inspiration from artists like John Everett Millais, and Wong Kar Wai who changed the way he comprehends things in his work. He feels that one should keep trying and making bad copies of the imagination one has, until the right one is achieved. Although it is tough to turn the images in your head to reality, he reckons that it is the only way to keep going.

Creative Gaga - Issue 46 - Cover

Published in Issue 46

This issue is focused on, how to design for kids, bundled with articles full of inspirations, advice and unique point-of-views from the veterans of the animation industry, illustrators, photographers, artists and many more. So, order your copy or subscribe, before print copies run out and enjoy reading this issue!

 

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Creative Gaga - Issue 47

 

One might think how hard could it possibly be to capture an object? Little do they know that product photography is an in-depth field that has a lot of science, technology, physics and dynamics being controlled by the master-the photographer. Clicking for a purpose, like a project, only adds to the pressure. Devang Singh, a product photographer, understands the basics and the tricks. Here, he shares his lens and his vision.

The Photographer

1. Understand the Brief and Your Subject.

Before the physical production of a photograph, the shoot needs to go through a mental process, regardless of whether it’s a 50 Cent Solitaire or something as large as a washing machine. During this process, ask yourself the following questions like ‘What is the scale of the product?’ because this will help you visualise the space required for shooting and lensing. Also, ‘How many sides/facets does the product have?’ as this will enable you to get an idea of the number of lights required along with the framing. This is followed by questions like ‘What is the surface material, whether it is metal reflective, matt, textured etc.’ and ‘What are the styling requirements of the campaign.’ Such a Q n A session with one’s self helps give direction.

The Photographer

 2. Prepare a Mood Board for Yourself/Client.

Once answers to the above questions have been obtained, start making the mood board to help bring into perspective your thoughts that enables team mates understand your vision. It helps in keeping all stakeholders on the same page leaving no room for miscommunication.

The Photographer
The Photographer

3. At Shoot.

At the time of the shoot, equipment that you will need is a 35 mm DSLR, 24 mm, 35mm, 50mm macro or non-macro, 85mm and a 100mm macro lens, minimum four light set up- 200W to 500W, light meter, light modifiers that include soft boxes, reflectors strip boxes, bounce boards- white, silver and gold, mirrors for concentrated reflections, a black chart to cut out extra light, a sturdy tripod with a sandbag and finally a laptop to tether capture and observe all details.

The Photographer

4. Understand Camera Settings and DOF.

If shooting in a controlled environment, like an indoor studio, it is important to keep a few things in mind. It is preferable to shoot custom white balance using a grey card. It’s also important to control shutter speed. For example, always shoot below 1/160 when using staple light setups of Profoto or Elinchrom FX/RX series. This is to make sure the camera syncs with the light and doesn’t give you a black band at the edge. If you are shooting splashes or moving subjects which demand faster shutters, take a wider shot and crop the black band or use a speed light at low intensities like 1/32 or 1/64.

The Photographer

5. Two Scenarios You Shall Face.

If you are shooting products for a catalogue which requires shooting the product in focus through and through, then maintain a distance of at least four feet from the product and try shooting at apertures from f/11 up to f/16 from a 50mm lens.

The Photographer

When conducting a stylised product shot which demands the product to be separated from the background and other props, then there are various ways to deal with it. One can go as close to the subject using wide lenses with wide apertures like f/1.8 and blur the background. Another option is to use a telephoto till 100mm at mid apertures f/5.6 – f/8 to avoid compression of the frames and make the product look smaller than it really is. Finally, one can also use low angle with forced perspective, head on, side or even a 45 degree top down.

The Photographer

6. Understand Lighting and Light Attachments.

Light plays the most important role in creating a spectacular image. It’s best to pre-plan using lighting diagrams in order to avoid any surprises on set. Use soft light for reflective surfaces and cut light with cutters to create gradation. It’s also important to understand highlights and shadows and to always have the final image in mind. The treatment in post-production should already be in your head while you shoot. Another point to add is the use of hard light for rims if required to separate subject/product.

The Photographer

Essential Tricks:

1. Carry a polarizer to minimize highlight and to get details in burnouts on reflective surfaces.
2. Carry a dulling spray to make glossy surfaces matt. Please note that excessive usage of the same can result in a wrong representation of the surface of the subject. Hence, use carefully.
3. Lock down your tripod and maintain a frame and add things to make the image.

The Photographer
Product and Automobile Design

Published in Issue 27

This issue explores one of the widely discussed product design and automobile #design which is very close to our heart. We spoke to few leading names to find out the future of product design and understand the Indian designer sensibilities and practices. Everyone believe that it’s not just functionality but also the visual appeal of the product which plays a crucial in the success of a product. This issue is a bundle of inspirations and insights from the well know product and automobile designers. A must read which you will enjoy for sure.

 

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Creative Gaga - Issue 47

 

38Technology Journalist, Abhimanyu Ghoshal, takes us through the photography essentials of clicking for Live music concerts, also its nitty-gritty and rather subtle aspects.

Photography
Photography

Cater to the Niceties and Niche of the Craft.

Clicking for Live music gigs is a whole lot different from clicking otherwise. You’re tasked with capturing the energy, vibe and mood of a concert, with very little control over critical elements such as lighting, shooting positions and the ability to direct your subjects. That is a whole different ball game from shooting with models in a production setting that conforms to your brief, and with a team to support you as well. It is this thrill of capturing imagery of Live music performances or concerts that is rather exciting, and that is also what makes the very process of doing it enjoyable, satisfying and valuable in itself.

Photography
Photography

Make Your Way Through The Hurdles.

There are several constraints that present interesting challenges – you only get to shoot during the first two or three songs (after which you have to leave the photo pit in front of the stage); there are strong lights that bathe the performers in colour and blow out details in your shots, and you can’t access every portion of the stage that you might want to. It’s fun to work around these and try to create compelling images. Good lighting, a well-appointed stage and an enthusiastic audience go a long way in making your pictures stand out.

Photography
Photography

Soak in the Vibe; Then let it Reflect.

Depending on the music and the artist’s background, one must compose pictures to suit their vibe and what they’re known for. For example, with metal bands, one may try to capture a dark atmosphere by isolating the subject, including the smoke emanating from smoke machines and treat the raw image accordingly. With pop acts, on the other hand, one can try to highlight the performers’ signature costumes. Researching artists’ music and previous photographic coverage before shooting their concerts certainly helps to quite an extent, in this regard.

Photography
Photography

Step out of Familiar Terrain, and Walk into New Horizons.

It can certainly be more exciting to click artists who you are familiar with, than those you don’t know quite well. As a music lover, though, the opportunity to discover new acts is a bonus. Shooting unfamiliar performers gets you out of your comfort zone, thus expanding your horizons as a photographer. Do not fall for poor composition and over-the-top editing; both issues can easily be fixed by referring to the works of more accomplished photographers and practicing consciously.

Photography
Issue-38

Published in Issue 38

With this issue, we try to explore different views from many well-known studio owners and senior designers. While Anthony Lopez of Lopez Design shared tips on what a studio looks for in a designer, Mohar Ray from Codesign highlights the key aspects that play a significant role and make the difference in whether you are hired or not as a promising designer. Also, this issue has an insightful article on ‘Branding with reason and love’ from Itu Chaudhuri, founder ICD (Itu Chaudhuri Design) along with Siddhi Ranade, explaining his tools of storytelling through his unique style of illustrations. This issue is a must read for a talented graduate to a branding expert. Order your copy and enjoy reading it!

 

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Fashion can be presented in various ways but understood by an individuals the way they wish to see it. Richa Maheshwari has explored the digital lens to create still imagery, conveying an artist’s thoughts to the public.

Photography

Avocation to Vocation.

Not really sure of which field to specialize in her final year at design school, Richa had luck by her side to be guided by a professor in choosing photography as her major. It did not stop there. She very easily transformed her passion of photography into her flourishing profession.

Photography

She started freelancing while pursuing college. Having no godfather in the industry or having assisted no photographer, she learned everything by hit and trial, watching tutorials and self-practicing. Taking on various projects boosted her confidence and helped her establish her own style and techniques.

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On the Job.

Richa uses photography for translating her vision into reality. She feels communicating the idea of a fashion designer to a commoner in a comprehensible style while retaining its essence is the job of a fashion photographer.

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She defines fashion and lifestyle as her main subjects for photography and provides the entire shoot production from conceptualization of an idea to final print or digital realization. Her client list spans from ad agencies and fashion houses to individual artists and designers.

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An Artist’s Ideology.

I want to give something back to the society, Richa used her skill-set to make documentaries and done photography on various social issues, many of which have been used as fund-raisers by different organizations. According to Richa, an artist is fully satisfied when he utilizes his creative best with full liberties. But sometimes, commissioned and client works come with a restriction on the imagination. She overcomes these restrictions in creativity while working on personal and social projects.

Photography

Stumbling Blocks.

Photography being a very strong medium of communication comes with its own set of limitations.
The content portrayed to the masses should be crisp, clear and innovative, devoid of complexities and philosophical connotations. Producing work in a multi-cultural country like ours, one needs to respect the sentiments and emotions related to various beliefs and ideologies that are followed.

Photography

Motion-graphics today constitutes the peak of communication systems. But Richa is of the opinion that the still medium of photography is of much more explanatory worth than a motion-graphic.

Photography

Garnering professional experience while studying absorbed the survival pressure for Richa, which would have otherwise existed. Hence, she had the cushion to work upon all the technical and professional mistakes and keep growing in her field to become the success she is today.

Photography

Words of Advice 

For the budding professionals of the field, she has some quick tips to keep in mind:

 

1. Be original with your ideas or even if you are drawing inspiration, do not replicate.


2. Develop your style and stick to it.


3. Don’t blindly follow rules. Be creative and as experimental as possible.


4. Be open to learning and keep researching about the latest happening in the industry and technology.


5. Never be satisfied or you will stagnate your growth.


6. Take calculative risks.


7. Give something back to the society.

Photography

Published in Issue 45

When celebrations are all around for the new year, everyone is curious about what this new year will bring. So, the rounds of looking back to the past year and trying to predict the new one starts. We started the same exploration through this issue by reaching various experts for their take on the trends for their respective fields. So, go ahead.

 

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Creative Gaga - Issue 47

 

Body form is a work of art in itself. Its design is like no other creation on Earth. Fascinated by this at a young age, Commercial Photographer Sanket Sanjay Khuntale decided to capture nude body forms depicting each zodiac sign in his final year photography project ‘Nudiacs’. He uses the concept of nudity that has been explored by painters and fashion designers since time immemorial, to capture it in a unique manner.

Art
Aries
Art
Cancer

Nude doesn’t have to mean Erotic

When working with nude subjects, it is very important to understand the purpose of the idea. Because the idea was to depict human nature through human body forms; the concept demanded nude body forms to be displayed elegantly rather than sexually. For those who understand fine art, they know it is primarily concerned with the aesthetic quality and creativity of the subject and where any erotic interest, although often present, is secondary in nude painting and photos.

Art
Virgo
Art
Libra

This distinguishes pornographic photography which has a primary purpose of sexually arousing the viewer and glamour photography which focuses the subject photographed in the most attractive way. In ‘Nudiacs’ it was always important to bear in mind that sexuality, although very subtle, was not dominant at any point.

Art
Scorpio
Art
Capricorn

The biggest challenge of Nude Photography is being comfortable with it

It’s tough to shed off all inhibitions, stand in front of a group of people and pose. In order to make the model comfortable with the job, the person behind the camera needs to be most comfortable. ‘Nudiacs’ being the first attempt at shooting nude, this clearly was a big challenge. Working up to the shoot was also challenging enough. For one day of shoot, it took up to three month to prepare, wherein Sanket pose in front of the mirror, experimenting with body forms and sketching down the shapes and contours of each zodiac sign that best represented it.

Art
Aquarius
Art
Pisces

Execution breathes life into an Idea

The style of lighting and overall look of the images was important to highlight and convey the concept. Of course, the shape, contours and postures were important, but figuring out how to emphasize those features was necessary as well. Lighting the subject from behind helped in highlighting the edges, that in turn made the frame look like a low key picture. Lighting makes all the difference when it comes to creating drama and intensity in the final outcome.

Art

Published in Issue 22

This issue is dedicated to the talented design graduates who are not just looking to work but seeking experience in order to realise the greater goal of life. The issue features various designers from India and abroad. Kevin Roodhorst from The Netherlands realised his goal so early in life that propelled him to start his career as a designer as young as 13. To name a few talents we have Vivek Nag from Fine Arts from Rachna Sansad Mumbai, Simran Nanda from Pearl Academy New Delhi, Anisha Raj from MAEER MIT Institute of Design Pune, Giby Joseph from Animation and Art School Goa and many more. This issue gives a fresh perspective of talented graduates and their unique approach to design.

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You can see so much more with one eye closed. Photographer Girish Jain believes art is present everywhere, and that one needs the right perception, an intention and of course a camera, to see it. Here, he tells us a few of his tricks that can get you clicking too.

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The Only Disability in Life is a Bad Attitude

Be the Fly on a Wall

As a street photographer, your first lesson is mastering the art of invisibility; wearing the invisibility cloak. Always try and find ways to keep your camera and yourself out of your subject’s sight while you photograph them. This is important because it helps you capture, raw and natural photographs without the person getting conscious of being watched. Photographers, who have mastered this ability, take the concept of candid photography to a completely different level.

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A Mysterious Misery
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A shot of people’s reflection in a puddle highlights how photographers like to see the same world differently.

Connect with the Subject

That’s the only way your photographs will stand a chance to connect with the viewers. A great connection is established when you wait for the right moment, when you are patient. That moment is so important because it will never come back in the way it was gifted to you. It’s the job of a good photographer to freeze that moment in time, by capturing it.

Eye
An Approach to the Street as Canvas

See with your Mind

Learning to see is an essential characteristic of a photographer’s eye. Look around yourself. Observe the various elements in the scene. Discern the inherent details. View and review the scene. As you do so, you discover a lot of passive things, which never seemed to have caught your eye. Remember, composition is key. Think in terms of composition, lines, patterns, balance, and simplicity; they will lead the viewer’s eye into your photograph. Looking at things around you in this manner eventually leads you in discovering an interesting image from an ordinary scene.

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The meaning of street is the need for sharing life with others and the search for community
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