There aren’t many underwater fashion photographers or institutions to learn from, says Kriti Bisaria
Rajkumari Sharma Tankha
New York-based Director of Photography for the global luxury fashion brand Rebecca Minkoff, Kriti Bisaria recently showcased her underwater fashion photography works, The Plunge, at Art Magnum in New Delhi.
Born in Chhindwara (MP) and brought up in Bhopal, Jaipur and Mumbai, Bisaria was drawn towards creative arts, especially communication design, for as long as she can remember. But, it was while she was in the second semester of her undergrad course in Fashion Communication at NIFT, Mumbai that she got interested in photography. “It’s all thanks to advertising photographer Amit Ashar – he cultivated a love for photography in me,” she says.
Bisaria came across underwater photography while researching for her fashion photography thesis project during the final year of her college in 2012. “I discovered Zena Holloway’s underwater work, and was completely awestruck. I had never seen such work before, and I wanted to do it too,” she says.
By 2014, she was sure that she wanted to do underwater fashion photography professionally. She then studied under renowned underwater photographers Elena Kalis at the Palm Springs Photo Festival, California. “I also underwent a competitive training and qualification process for a scuba certification by the Professional Association of Diving Instructors, and did a semester-long class under renowned underwater photographer Ralph Clevenger at the Brooks Institute, California,” she adds. In 2017, Bisaria did her Masters in Fashion Photography from the prestigious School of Visual Arts. Excerpts from an interview:
How is your show The Plunge at Art Magnum, New Delhi received? Where does it go from here?
The overall response and attendance to the show was truly humbling and exhilarating at the same time. Fortunately, I had the right team in Goodword Media who managed the event as well as the guest list. Their attention to detail was impeccable. The show was attended by numerous art collectors, curators, and enthusiasts.
I also exhibited the same body of work in Bhopal, where renowned photographer and Padma Shri awardee, Bhalu Mondhe inaugurated the show. There as well, the work was greatly appreciated by artists, esteemed dignatories and the press.
Currently, I’m planning on exhibiting ‘The Plunge’ in other cities in the near future and I am also working on my new body of underwater fashion work that I am excited to finish and share with the world.
How challenging is it to shoot underwater and how do you overcome your challenges?
Due to the sheer complexity of this field, there aren’t many underwater fashion photographers or institutions in the world to learn from. That for me was the biggest challenge to overcome as I had to largely rely on self-educating, experimenting and a whole lot of failing!
Another key challenge is safety. That’s the reason why there needs to be a lifeguard during every shoot.
Additionally, it’s very important to pace oneself and the models. During the shoot, both models and I need to resurface to breathe before anyone feels fatigued. Rehydrating is a must. Also, testing your equipment before the shoot in a bathtub is always advisable. For the safety of the equipment, there needs to be a dry area that is designated for equipment only with one person supervising the area.
How do you manage your job at Rebecca Minkoff and your passion for photography and holding shows? Isn’t that hectic? Which way are you tilted more?
As the Director of Photography at Rebecca Minkoff, I am responsible for photographing the brand’s visual content for all marketing and social platforms. Fortunately at my job, the commercial work is beautifully intertwined with my creative hunger.
Honestly, photography is a labour of love and demands a lot both physically and mentally. It’s the nature of the beast. My balancing act involves me working for the company during the weekdays and for my personal projects over the weekends.
I don’t have a preference between working for Rebecca Minkoff vs holding shows. Both are important for me at this point of time. Personal projects need time and space to grow. Working for Rebecca Minkoff lets me take time off my personal projects and revisit them after taking a little break.
Any photographer you look up to? And why?
Apart of Zena Holloway, I look up to the works of Bahama-based underwater fashion photographer Elena Kalis. Her creativity and underwater photography skills has set new benchmarks. Her work is playful and she brings in the energy by adding props, sea animals bringing another dimensions to underwater fashion photography. One of Elena Kalis’ masterpieces was the Alice in Waterland series, featuring her model and daughter, Sacha Kalis.
What are your other interests?
I love adventure sports. Apart from scuba diving, I have experienced sky diving, cliff jumping, river rafting and skiing. Next, I want to learn surfing.