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Bina Modi Lookbook Shoot
Ekta Saran

Bina Modi Lookbook Shoot

I was recently approached by local fashion brand, Bina Modi to shoot the Lookbook for their upcoming season’s collection.

When I get a brief, I will usually look at previous imagery (see examples below) to get a sense of what the aesthetic is. For this shoot, the idea was to capture the essence of the brand in a way that would appeal to the modern woman rather than typecasting the style into a specific stereotype.

THE BRAND: 
Bina Modi is a fresh, young fashion brand in the UAE that incorporates traditional Parsi embroidery into modern silhouettes for everyday wear. 

MOODBOARD:
Priyal, the designer behind the brand, wanted to highlight the colorful tones of the pieces, but instead of shooting outdoors, she wanted a stark setting where the clothes would be the main focus of the shots. The other element she wanted to incorporate was a slightly gritty, modern aesthetic.

Based on the brief, I put together a moodboard for my vision of the shoot that I felt would be in keeping with the brand’s brief. When Priyal later sent me the following reference images, I knew we were on the same page. 

I put together a few inspiration images that didn’t stray away from the brand’s essence, keeping the look modern and clean. 

LOCATION:

With the tone and mood of the shoot determined, the next step was to find the right location. Since summer was upon us, we decided to stay indoors. But where? We needed a place that was minimalistic without feeling overly sanitized. It had to be a good balance of gritty and clean, without being too distracting. During our hunt, we came upon a painting studio in Alserkal Avenue, thejamjar. It was the perfect combination – a sparse, open warehouse space with a splash of personality found through colorful paint lines and textures. The huge windows offered beautiful natural light, which was perfect since I wanted to avoid using strobes for the shoot.

To top it all off, the space was ideal for playing with shadows, which meant we could create unique looks in the same place without the images becoming repetitive. Since we had 20 looks to shoot, the location had to really work for us. 

THE SHOOT:
On the day of the shoot, we had the model prepped and ready by 10am. Set up was minimal since I was working with natural light. In terms of gear, I had the Sony A7SII with the GM 24-70mm f/2.8 and the 50mm f/1.4 lenses with me. But as the shoot was quite hectic and we had to get through 20 looks, I stuck to the 24-70mm. It is one of my favorite lenses because it’s so versatile and will do a bang-up job even when you don’t have time to stop and switch to another option. I could do full outfits, close-ups, and portraits when required with just one lens. Plus, with the A7SII I could hike up my ISO without getting any noise once the natural light began to fade without compromising the sharpness of the images. All I really needed to bring in addition to my camera gear were some huge white boards to use as reflectors.

With everything in place, I got ready to start shooting the first look.

The first look is always the trickiest, as there are different elements that may or may not work together, and you really won’t know until you begin shooting. For example, the initial shots of the first look were not working out. The angles weren’t cohesive, the windows at the back didn’t fit into my composition correctly, and because my model was backlit by the windows, the light on her face was dark and shadowy. It all looked rather awkward and amateurish.

Look 1 – Test A
Sony A7S II, GM 24-70mm @24mm, F/6.3, 1/125sec, ISO-1600

Look 1 – Test B
Sony A7S II, GM 24-70mm @24mm, F/6.3, 1/125sec, ISO-1600

Look 1 – Test C
Sony A7S II, GM 24-70mm @51mm, F/6.3, 1/125sec, ISO-1600

Look 1
Sony A7S II, GM 24-70mm @30mm, F/7.1, 1/100sec, ISO-1600

So, we stopped and decided to change the model’s hair and makeup slightly. I also decided to shoot more of a profile that lined up the windows for better composition and added a white board just outside of the frame to in order to bounce light back onto the model’s face to deal with the shadows.

Since it was early in the day and the light wouldn’t reach the rest of the warehouse for a long while, we used this area and the wall for the next couple of looks we needed to shoot. We also used the opposite end of the wall, which had great leading lines, making for a much more interesting composition. By that point, the light had started to seep into the space and created these beautiful streaks of light that worked perfectly with our aesthetic.

Look 2
Sony A7S II, GM 24-70mm @35mm, F/5.6, 1/80sec, ISO-1000

Look 3
Sony A7S II, GM 24-70mm @55mm, F/6.3, 1/100sec, ISO-1200

As the afternoon light started to flood in, it created some unique shapes on the floor, really highlighting the textures of the clothes as well as our location.

Look 4
Sony A7S II, GM 24-70mm @31mm, F/6.3, 1/125sec, ISO-640

Look 5
Sony A7S II, GM 24-70mm @40mm, F/7.1, 1/125sec, ISO-640

Look 6
Sony A7S II, GM 24-70mm @34mm, F/76.3, 1/125sec, ISO-640

We moved back to the other side of the location for one look that needed a bit of drama. By now the floor had blocks of lights creating these great shapes. We placed the model against the wall using a white block to add some depth and texture. But it felt dull and wasn’t creating the drama we wanted. 

The solution was surprisingly simple. The floor with the lines and the scaffolding structure of the wall offered plenty of texture and drama. So, I took a few steps back and let the space take over. I placed a white board next to the camera to bounce some light onto the garment and the model – and it came together beautifully. 

Look 7
Sony A7S II, GM 24-70mm @31mm, F/7.1, 1/80sec, ISO-400

In post, I worked with the blue tones of the garment and the grey of the floor to make the image cooler than it was when I shot it in camera. The natural warm tones of the original image weren’t quite working for the final effect we wanted to create.

One of the looks I really struggled with was a simple white shirt. Sitting, standing – nothing seemed to work. Then I turned around and saw a lone bench with these distinct patterns of light coming in and thought, “Maybe that could do it.”

Thankfully, it all worked out!

Look 8
Sony A7S II, GM 24-70mm @33mm, F/8, 1/100sec, ISO-400

Look 9
Sony A7S II, GM 24-70mm @35mm, F/6.3, 1/125sec, ISO-640

One of my favorite portrait shots was during a light test for one of the looks. We were barely doing any close ups, but I ended up with this accidental portrait, and it’s my favorite from the shoot. Last, but not least, the lightweight A7SII body meant that I was able to truck through 9 hours of shooting without suffering from severe shoulder pain later!

Look 10
Sony A7S II, GM 24-70mm @39mm, F/5.6, 1/80sec, ISO-1000

Look 11
Sony A7S II, GM 24-70mm @36mm, F/6.3, 1/80sec, ISO-1000

Look 12
Sony A7S II, GM 24-70mm @43mm, F/6.3, 1/125sec, ISO-640

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