Behind the Scenes: Creative Photo Taking with Iswarya Venkatakrishnan

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Hi I'm Iswarya, or some of you might know me better by my Instagram handle @ishyvi. I have been taking part in Creatively Squared weekly challenges for over a year. I love the concept of this new “Behind the Scenes” series and enjoy learning about the process that led to the creation of an image. I’m glad to have the opportunity to share my own behind the scenes action so you can see what goes on while I'm creating images for different challenges. I will be talking about finding inspiration, a couple of methods I use to approach a challenge, how to take a creative shot in a small space and my editing process.

Finding Inspiration

Since discovering the Creatively Squared challenges I would wait to hear the weekly theme every Sunday. My initial entries for these challenges were flatlays using items things that I had lying around the house. After a while I discovered my love for colour and paper and started creating my entries using them. I'll be sharing are some of the ways I approach each challenge I and hope it helps you look at these challenges with a different perspective. 

It’s all in the name of the Challenge

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The creative challenges have completely different themes every week and each theme gives you so many touch points to get imaginative. Sometimes, just the name of the challenge itself could spark a creative idea. 

One of the recent challenges was 'Think Pink' which excited me because I can relate to this theme as most of my images incorporate different shades of pink. My initial concept was to create a big flatlay of all things pink. I also liked the title “Think Pink” and wanted to show that in a creative way.

While I'm thinking of ideas I start working on a challenge by sketching some ideas through the week.  Here is the sketch I created to show my version of “Thinking Pink”. It’s quite literally a flatlay of me thinking about all things I like in pink!

It came to Sunday morning and I hadn’t created a version yet. Luckily I had a different idea of using light bulb to create another version of “Think Pink”.  This resulted in my final image for the challenge, I liked that it was a simple concept and took less than an hour to create.

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Things I used

  • 2 light bulbs
  • Pink and White Paint
  • Pink Paper for background

I had 2 spare light bulbs, so I just painted them in different shades of pink and combined the different images in Photoshop (which I have talked about in my editing process at the end ☺)

Here are few other examples of of times I have creating an image inspired by the challenge name. I love approaching a challenge this way as you can get creative in so many different ways.

 My image for 'Plant power'

My image for 'Plant power'

 My image for 'sweet escape'

My image for 'sweet escape'

Creating a mini set up

One thing I love to create are miniatures made our of paper and for some challenges I like to create a small set with completely different objects in the house. One of the challenge I enjoyed creating miniatures for "Travel'. I love taking road trips and wanted to create an image based on this. Another thing I like to do before creating an image is to create a Pinterest board for inspiration which led me to create a mini road trip set up.

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I had a small toy car  that I had picked up from one of my street market hauls because I couldn't resist its pink colour! I made paper suitcases and placed it on top of the car driving along a pink road. But the setup didn’t feel complete, I love stopping on the road trips just to enjoy the sunsets and wanted to build that into the image. To add this dimension into the image I just cut up a circle for the sun and also created a tree to make it more like a proper landscape. I love adding small elements like this to make the scene more lifelike. Here is the before and after shot. 

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Things I used

  • Paper for background
  • A small pink toy car
  • Paper suitcases
  • Paper for sun and tree.

I really enjoy working with paper, so I use paper to create all my own props. But this could be easily and more beautifully done with items found around the home such as children's toys, small cardboard boxes, etc. 

Getting the shot  

Equipment

I work mostly at night after office hours hence taking a picture in natural light is not an option.

I use a Sony A7rii and a small Godox continuous light to take my shots. Although I would like to get a proper studio light, this one does the trick.

Editing

I edit my images in Photoshop and Lightroom and hence it consumes more time, but I enjoy the process of editing. 

If I am editing on mobile, I use 

  • Lightroom 
  • Snapseed 
  • Touch retouch 
 Snapseed – I love the Expand feature. You can expand the image and it fills smartly based on the image. 

Snapseed – I love the Expand feature. You can expand the image and it fills smartly based on the image. 

 Touch Retouch – you can easily remove the unwanted objects using object removal

Touch Retouch – you can easily remove the unwanted objects using object removal

 The final image for "Happy Hour' themed challenge

The final image for "Happy Hour' themed challenge

Photoshop always comes in handy when I have a really big idea and I don’t have the space to get everything in the one frame. I use Photoshop to combine two images together to get the perfect shot. At first I thought Photoshop was difficult and that you needed to be an expert to use it but then I started watching tutorials on Lizzie Darden's YouTube channel . Lizzie explains her editing techniques in a simple and easy to understand way and I would recommend taking a look at her videos if you want to learn editing in Photoshop.

For the 'Letters' themed challenge I wanted to create an image based on the words “Be your own Rainbow”. I started with a sketch and realised I couldn’t get everything in one shot so had to combine a couple images for the finished result. Here are the before and after shots having necessary edits in Photoshop.

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Must have things

  • Paper: I always use thick colored paper as my backgrounds. I love making my own props with paper too.
  • Blu tack: Always a good thing to have around because it would help keep your objects in place
  • Straws: I use straws to give varying heights to objects to create a sense of layering in a flatlay or an image. You could use other smaller objects to create this effect, but straws + blu tac works if you are working with really small items.
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There you go, a peek into behind the scenes of my creative process for some of the challenge images I have created! I hope you found it interesting and are feeling inspired to create your next challenge entry.

You can see all of Iswarya's amazing content by following her on Instagram