Lensman breaches borders for Vanitha mag's virtual photoshoot

Aileena Catherin Amon from India (Kerala), Maria Kilate from Spain and Cecilia Kongwa from Zambia. Photo: Syam Babu

What do fashion photographers do when a pandemic locks them down in this digital era? Spread the wings across the virtual world by means of technology. That's exactly what Syam Babu, Senior Photographer with MM Publications, has done for a photoshoot for Vanitha magazine. The fashion page of the latest edition of the magazine carries glossy pictures of five models from various countries apart from India.

The models

Aileena Catherin Amon from India (Kerala), Cecilia Kongwa from Zambia, Maria Kilate from Spain, Merel from UAE and Derya Ozge Ozer from Turkey were the five foxy models who were featured on the fashion pages of the magazine. Aileena was former Miss Glam World (2nd runner up) and Miss Diva (Miss India Universe) and had won several other recognitions. She is the wife of Malayalam actor Balu Verghese. Kongwa, Derya, Kilate and Merel are top models in their respective countries.

The photoshoot

The photoshoot of the models abroad were carried out by FaceTime app except for the one in Dubai, which was executed with the help of Syam's photographer friend Vipin. "Face time, Apple's video call app was used for the remote photoshoot and I think it is used for a fashion photoshoot in a magazine Kerala for the first time," says Syam. The make-up was done by the models themselves.

“The models were supportive, but communication was a problem because of the language barrier. It was a huge task to co-ordinate the photoshoot over the mobile phone and to make them understand what I was looking for vis-a-vis the pose, costume arrangements and the makeup. The help from stylist Jobina is worth mentioning here,” he says.

Merel from UAE (L) and Derya Ozge Ozer from Turkey. Photo: Syam Babu/Vipin

Another big challenge was the difference in time zones of countries from where the models streamed the video calls. “I had to work in the wee hours to get some of the shots. I had never been to any of those foreign countries except Dubai and hence it was tough for me to judge the light and the background there, which was visible to me through my mobile screen and the computer monitor,” says Syam.

The theme

Usually, a fashion shoot is carried out by a team of 8-15 members, including costumer, make-up artist, assistants besides the photographer. But this shoot has been conducted by just the photographer and the models.

Yet, the shoot followed all the basic criteria of a fashion photoshoot. Engendering the theme 'bold in black', the models turned to their own wardrobes to fetch black costumes for the shoot.

The message

Vanitha photoshoot
Aileena Catherin Amon from India (Kerala), Maria Kilate from Spain and Cecilia Kongwa from Zambia. Photo: Syam Babu

The experience teaches us that anything is possible if we have the will. Distance can never pose a challenge if we have the right people to work with, says Syam. The whole concept of the shoot was to convey the message of global unity, that the entire world is fighting the pandemic together irrespective of class, creed or nationality.

“Stay positive and always believe that there is a light at the end of the tunnel. We the people of world should stay together as one big family,” he says. It is this notion of solidarity that Syam strived to portray through his work and which appealed all the models he approached for the shoot.

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