Today, Project of the Week leads to us to a lovely series by one of my very favorite photographers, Ishita Sitwala. Ishita creates one mindblowing set of images after another, but this particular project of the Jaipur Rugs storefront is a unique and complex collection.
Ishita’s clients for this stunning set of images are Jaipur Rugs themsleves, who wanted to document their store for promotional purposes, as well as the interior designer of the space, Vaishali Kamdar Associates. With her clients’ needs in mind, Ishita set out on this shoot with the goal of “space making” and showing “the fluidity between the spaces representative of the rugs and their patterns.”
Let’s see how she did it!
Despite the serenity these photos emanate, Ishita exclaimed that the shoot day was hectic. She shared “We did this in one day and in hindsight it was a very long day. There were too many details to be covered and a huge collection of equal wide shots and vignettes were needed to have a complete set. This must have been one of my fastest shoots ever as we ended up making almost 35 photos in one day! The time crunch was our biggest hindrance.”
She continues “The other major challenge was the glass and reflections, especially for shots that looked into other spaces through layers of glass. This was one of those situations where black cloth or flash were not helping cut the multiple reflections out. We had to let go of doing 1-2 shots because of this limitation. In others, we just decided to live with it and edit out as much as possible in post.
But the space spoke to us, inspired us, in ways most other projects can’t match. Just being there made me want to out-perform myself in my work, in ways I could not fathom.”
It’s easy to understand how such a space could influence Ishita’s drive. Each scene she documents is chock full of texture, awash with gorgeous light, and rich color. She portrays each setting as a calm, warm, and inviting area.
Vignettes like this allow us to really hone in on the textures and colors of the rugs. We see how the materiality works with that of the furniture and objects in the room.
This next set of images is a testament to Ishita’s goal of showing the flow of each space she was capturing. She gives us both wide, pulled-back views that help us understand the room as a whole. Then she goes on to make photographs that let our attention rest on the rugs themselves, in addition to showing glimpses of the colors and textures working with each object in the room.
I asked Ishita how this shoot differed for her from a more conventional architecture or interiors shoot. She shared “This project was more like shooting a museum or gallery space than a retail store and I have never really shot an exhibition space before professionally. The scale and proportion of the spaces of the heritage architecture was challenging, how to get shots of spaces with such high ceiling without distortion was something I had to constantly consider while making compositions.
The project was also a display of how you can use carpets in multiple ways. So we had to capture those details too, without letting go of their relationship to the other carpets and the space itself.”
She gives us more insight into her process, telling “I also used my strobe to give the photos just a slight punch with some sharp light and shadows. Without this, the space was a bit flatly lit and I didn’t want that to reflect in the photos, especially the vignettes.”
“Editing was a challenge because It was important to bring out the vibrancy of the carpets and yet not make them so loud, you can’t read the space,” Ishita explained. “The right balance between the colors and the white walls had to be struck. For me, even the right tone of the white had to be achieved without it being too stark white or too warm on the other end.”
Jaipur Rug’s store is located on the grounds of the Narain Niwas Palace Hotel in Jaipur. The building dates back to 1928 and the careful design of the modern elements like the floor and paint colors allows the original architecture to shine.
Vaishali Kamdar Associates’ goal was to “challenge the narrative of a typical carpet store.” They created a store for Jaipur Rugs that shows the carpets used in unique and unexpected installations like Ishita showcases below.
Ishita notes that the quantity and caliber of images here is owed in part to her stylist Samir Wadekar. Working with Samir allows Ishita to move quickly and efficiently. She says “His vision for each shoot is one I always trust and depend on. Even though we were losing light quickly, we kept shooting till the last minute, thanks to this boy’s smart thinking and our common drive to keep making beautiful photos till we crash.”
We’ll close out this beautiful project with one of Ishita’s favorite images. She kindly elaborates “[This] was one of the last shots of the day. We were losing light and a common pathway of the entire complex goes through the middle. So cleaning that and doing crowd control and setting up the multiple spaces that were seen in the shot, involved a lot of loud screaming and running around and thanks to the stylist and designer’s team we were able to take the shot in time.
Though a lot of editing had to be done, the composition itself was quite powerful. You get the sense of the scale of the entire project here, you see through tons of spaces into the main Machaha maze. It captures the essence of the heritage of the space and the very thoughtful intervention by the designer in it.”
If you have a project you’d like to be considered for Project of the Week, you can submit it here.