As soon as we got out of the cab, I looked up at the building. And immediately set my retinas loose to scan the place for any sign of what looked like a huge 12’ by 15’ signboard which pretty much said ‘Hot-shot photographer’. I was thinking that I would get to chat up some models in the waiting room, exchange some numbers maybe. A waiting room, where there would be millions of beautiful shots adorning the walls…rows of beautiful sceneries, clusters of wildlife pics, scores of scantily clad women in seductive poses…
Eyeballs darted to and fro outside the building, as if they were witnessing a live lawn tennis game, but all to no avail. There was none! So I along with my advanced in years Art Director, started up the stairs. We asked some delivery boys who were standing at the floor where the studio in question apparently was. They were happily posing and clicking pics with their mobile-cam. ‘Yes Saar? No, no photographer’s studio Saar! Must be some other place’, he answered hurriedly, since we were obviously intruding on his own private photo shoot. Just before we turned to leave ‘it’s the office next to us, to the right’, came a sheepish voice from the crowd of 5 being clicked.
So we headed in that direction but saw a plain looking door, that obviously could not be the studio, I thought. So I started to climb the stairs going to the roof. Just as reached the roof and saw a phone booth like cement cuboid which certainly wasn’t 'it'. “Over here, sir” said a small voice from behind. Turning around, I was quite amused to see a bearded head that popped out the door that had been closed a few seconds ago, much like a rabbit out of a conjurer’s hat.
I walked in and saw a ‘typical shoot’ type of set-up to my immediate right, it was the JK tyre. And it looked exactly what the ads crowned it as, ‘The Big Bad Badshah of Radials'. It had several lights trained on it, from every possible angle.
Now, I turned my eyes toward the room only to find that, it was the most unglamorous thing I had ever seen in my life! No waiting room, no models and no sign of extravagance in any shape or form. But yes, there were pictures, in a cluster right above his work-desk. Not the wildlife kind or the scantily clad model kind, but beautiful pictures nonetheless.
Other than that there was an ordinary looking laptop that showcased some reference shots, sitting on the desk. And then, there it was… Now, I was jealous. It was a camera, which the photographer unzipped from a rather bulky looking bag, filled with attachments and what not. What a beaut! The moment I saw it, I fell in love with it. It was big and looked like it was capable of getting a clear shot of a nose hair inside the nostrils of a person seated a kilometer away. It was spectacular!
Eavesdropping on a few minutes of conversation between the photographer and the Art Director revealed that it was the same photographer that had shot the Tic-Tac cricket print ad. I introduced myself and soon after asked him about the ‘no sign board’ thing. “Actually, we shoot a lot of ads here and celebrities as well, which is why we prefer to keep a low-profile, and try to be well, almost invisible. Even most of our neighbors don’t know what it is we do here. You see, my goal is to supply my clients with good talent for a very reasonable cost. I know we don’t have AC rooms and ‘some higher end camera that costs a couple of lakhs – forgot the name’, but that would raise the cost considerably. But maybe in a few years, we’ll see…” he replied.
I heard what he had to say, and absolutely bought into his philosophy. I liked the idea that we had come there for a service and that is exactly what he promised deliver on. No frills added. His philosophy was very Subhiksha, and seemed to carry with it a ‘morcha against kharcha!’ kinda sensibility. I was still sort of disappointed that there were no hot models hanging around though.
The shoot went on superbly; we saw that he not only talked a big game but could deliver on it as well. Immediately the unphotogenic photographer seemed to be, just what the doctor ordered. We sipped on tea and frooti that the bearded head (photographer’s assistant) that had popped up earlier promptly brought us. And the art director advised the photographer on the type of light and shadow play he wanted on the product.
So after a 2 & ½ or 3 hour shoot, we exchanged cards & thank-yous and were office bound. I was immensely happy with the experience, but in retrospect am still kinda sulky about the models.
Posted by Shane