This was perhaps one of the brightest events in my otherwise low-key September 2009. Clicking photos for Pritya for their two famous and happening cookbooks – Cooking at Home with Pedatha and Sukham Ayu, for the upcoming Diwali Season, lit up my spirit. Cooking at Home with Pedatha was awarded the “Best Vegetarian Cookbook in the World-2006” by the Gourmand World Cookbook Awards.
It all started with a chance meeting on web, exchange of emails, led to a brief meeting, to finally capturing the beauty of the Andhra cuisine cookbook. The specs for the photo shoot were simple – for Diwali. Here is the outcome of a late night sojourn with Pratibha Jain and Jigyasa Giri’s labour of love.
About Cooking at Home with Pedatha
Cooking at Home with Pedatha is a wonderful book detailing vegetarian recipes from a traditional Andhra kitchen. The heart and soul of this book are the traditional heirloom recipes that have been passed onto Pratibha and Jigyasa by Subhadra Krishna Rau Parigi, who is better known to all of us now as Pedatha.
Pedatha passed away this year, but she has left behind a treasure trove of recipies that have been, for generations, made and served with love. This cookbook has been noted and admired by culinary experts like Tarla Dalal, Rashmi Uday Singh, Chef Sanjeev Kapoor, et al and has taken the online food blogging community by fire. I shall write about the cook book some day but for now, please find more details on this book here
This simple and elegant composition was done for to be used on the web. Keeping in mind the color of the book cover, the additional details were restricted to white and green.
Sukham Ayu is the latest book from Pritya’s that contains authentic recipes seeped in Ayurvedic wisdom. This is the second baby of Pratibha Jain and Jigyasa Giri. Its hard cover is deep saffron in color and is fashioned on lines of Cooking at Home with Pedatha.
Pritya’s duo ship the books across the world in a variety of packages and surprise packs. The beautiful packaging comes with marble design handmade hard cardboard box. Needless to say that each box is unique and has beautiful patterns that compliment the book’s look and feel. The content of these boxes vary from season to occasion and can be customised too. Check out Amazon or their website for ordering information.
As the night progressed, the lights were lit one after the other. This simple photograph was shot using one side light, candle and a light diffuser. To give it earthy feel, the brown shades were chosen in its composition. Rattan mat, terracotta pot, sepia tainted lampshade, etc, have contributed to the base warmth of the image.
This is another earthy composition with addition of satin to give it gloss (and to indicate that the book comes in a gift box) while retaining its earthy charm.
Step by step, the props and set up gained the festive mood. Simple addition of candles brings in the much needed festive cheer. The terracotta and ceramic diyas were filled with tea light candles for a fuss-free glow, though oil-lit diyas would have been wonderful to get the same effect.
The above photo represents all things cultural, traditional and ceremonial, and are part of the gift package that comes with the book. Lord Ganesha – symbol of prosperity, bangles, inscense sticks, diyas, etc are classic icons of Indian tradition and its usage here signifies the kind of tradition this book is rooted in. The sweets are, however, best made with your hand after reading this authentic recipe book 🙂
Above is an experiment without candles but diffused light. Chrysanthemums were placed to reflect the light and bring in glow at sporadic points. The black net-like cloth adds in a bit of drama to an otherwise plain background.
Another attempt to showcase the Indian-ness of the book. No fuss black background with classic Indian motifs, golden zari border, jasmine flowers and bangles.
Diwali or Deepavali- the festival of lights, is not complete with the golden glow. The fairy lights and diyas have been used to create a magical and ethreal bed on which the two gifts were placed with props. Shall we now say – Happy Diwali!
Now this may be going the Eastman color way but the moment Pratibha saw it – her only words were “its very diwali”. That phrase is stuck in my head. very diwali. very diwali. very diwali indeed!!! Can we now add the phooljadis please?
These jasmines were so fragrant that my photo shoot was seemed like a partial aromatherapy session. Everytime you handle the delicate flowers or change their position, they let out their mesmerising fragrance that one cant help but notice these little gifts of God. A single bud of Jasmine or the entire strand, you cannot miss its presence. I love the way these flowers have added that much needed earthy, ethnic, and ethreal look to this image.
Behind the Scenes – Alls well that ends well!!!
I loved and enjoyed the entire exercise. Tentative deadline was 12 hours. From collecting the prop materials to setting up the shoot layouts, it was an enjoyable session. Working single handedly on this was the best as I had the time and location to do things my way, at my own pace. Thanks to my husband who kept me going with strong cuppa tea.
All the pix have been shot, sans professional equipment. My point-n-shoot camera did not let me down either.Though it took a lot of time, burned midnight oil and ate up my sleep time, I loved and enjoyed the entire exercise. And I look forward to more such fun.
Pratibha and Jigyasa loved the Diwali theme photos. I am happy that the dynamic duo loved these pix and have started to use them. Nothing can beat the feeling of having ones work appreciated and used. It was worth the effort.
And I am still learning.