My name is Ashish Chawla and I am a professional photographer specialising in fine art, fashion and portrait photography. Being a FUJIFILM X Photographer helps keep me up with the best technology.
My work is majorly influenced by comics, fine art and cinema. I grew up watching films by directors like Stanley Kubrick and Andrei Tarkovsky and I had always wanted to create fictionalised and cinematic fashion photography projects. I was quite excited to try out the new lens by Fujifilm, the GF 80m 1.7 for my project, ‘FORLORN’, inspired by the Wong Kar-Wai film ‘In The Mood For Love” (2000). The light treatment for this shoot was influenced by film noir.
Set in 1962 Hong Kong, ‘In The Mood For Love’ talks about two distinct married individuals who start falling for one another after finding out that their respective partners are cheating on them. The film showcases strained emotions of the two leads, who linger with feelings of love and desire that cannot be fulfilled. For this reason, it was decided to cast models who were not conventional-looking, and projected certain vulnerability and realism towards the camera. To ensure success of the project, they were made to go through the narrative of the film and given a briefing over the visual vocabulary. They were trained to emote and express the situation described in the film. To complement the same, the styling was contemporary, yet had a feeling of 1962 Hongkong, which was the setting of the film. The makeup and hair were styled to retain the classic feel of the times.
The location played a vital role in bringing out the richness and the mood of a classic era. The interiors, vintage decor items and moody lighting worked to the advantage of our theme. Seven different locations were strategically chosen within the venue which had depth and a good play of foreground and background. This was done to test the full potential of the GF 80mm 1.7, so that depth of field could be experimented with. We chose to shoot in the evening as it gave us the opportunity to work in extreme low light conditions and work around the ambient light provided by the location. It added a sense of mystery and dream-like quality to the images.
The lens with its low depth of field has a beautiful way to bring together the chemistry between the models and the aura of the location. It melts the subjects seamlessly into the space while also making the emotions and expressions stand out with its sharp optics.
The story of longing and loneliness comes alive due to the added romance of low depth of field through the lens. The narrow focus spectrum can help a photographer or filmmaker navigate the eye of the audience. It helps a photographer pinpoint the mind of the viewer towards exactly what they want the viewer to see.
The lighting of ‘FORLORN’ is intensely stylised with low-key lighting techniques, that create hard and crisp shadows. As a result, the produced images have a lot of darker tones, shadows, and deep blacks, which when placed next to starkly lit subjects create an enriched cinematic feeling. Due to the increased lighting ratio of the shots, the images have very minimal amounts of mid-tones, which create a mysterious and dramatic mood.
The eye detect of the GFX 100 works in perfect sync with the GF 80mm 1.7 lens in any light condition. Its lightning focus speed gives the photographer the freedom to move around with the subjects without worrying about losing their expressions or focus in-between the shots. At the same time, the poetic fluidity of the images with a creamy bokeh, creates surreal and dream-like visuals.
This technology really helps one to express feelings and project the stories which are emotionally driven. The GF 80mm 1.7 is by far the fastest lens in its category and I am delighted to use this with the brilliant IBIS of GFX100. This combination of technology is liberating for a photographer, as it really frees the artist in me and enables me to express myself without the restraints of lighting conditions. Its versatile focal length is ideal for both portrait and fashion work.
The GF 80mm 1.7 is revolutionary. It has created a new visual language for photographers to express themselves in and is the start of a new era in medium format photography.