Hotel Interior Photography: Jai Vora

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Life has unique ways in guiding one to their individual path – I began a Bachelor’s Program at Purdue University as a student of economics. During my sophomore year, under rather unique circumstances, I enrolled in the history of photography, aesthetics and intermediate courses in photography. This introduction left a life changing impact on me, almost everything changed. At the end of the semester, I found myself questioning the very foundations that I had worked towards till then. With these new experiences, discoveries and aspirations, I went back to life’s drawing board to re-evaluate all prior premises with respect to my education and profession.

After some deliberation, I changed my major and switched to the study of photography – This medium has changed the course of many world events and to that extent – also changed my life!

There has been a sea change in the profession of photography since the time I started my education in photography. Personally, I feel very privileged to have witnessed and been part of the paradigm shift that the medium has experienced in the past 10 to 12 years. Hotel Interiors

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The shift from film to digital capture has brought about a complete re-design and a re-think in ways photography is approached and how images are created.

Today’s tools, (hard and software) have enabled a photographer to set the imagination free, not unlike that of the modern painter.

Towards the end of the previous century, it was digital imaging that liberated straight photography from its championed trait of absolutely and accurately portraying reality as seen by the lens and thus moved Imaging away from Photography and towards that of Painting – The circle was now complete from this perspective

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Photography, like many of the arts, does not necessitate a formal education. Many of the world’s most accomplished photographers nurtured their latent talents on their own and refined them through the proven practice of apprenticing with established photographers. This practice remains true even today as at the most basic level, the medium of photography has to do with the ability to carve out images from a scene, communicate defined concepts and express all that moves ones heart and soul – qualities that are mostly difficult to tutor.

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This is not to say that there is a limited pre-requisite to studying photography. A formal education affords not only technical knowledge, but in studying the medium one understands it’s past, which impacts images being created for today, while effectively preparing for future visual communication.

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In the Indian context, the last decade has witnessed the establishing of several dedicated photography schools and programs in the country. With this, students now are exposed, taught and specialise in the various disciplines within photography. I am very happy to be involved in both commercial and academic worlds of photography – It is this balance that makes for a fulfilling experience.

Each discipline within photography has its sets of requirements. architecture/interior, hotel/resorts and product photography are the genres I specialise in.

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I have always been inspired by structures, visually attracted to repeating design motifs, geometry, formal shapes, depth or lack of it in spaces, etc., while taking genuine interest in architecture itself.

Thus, the genre of architecture/interior photography lends itself very well to my personal traits and interests. The ability to frame and juxtapose the mentioned visual elements in unique ways which makes for arresting images, and photographically relating narratives as expressed by architects or interior designers, is something I truly enjoy.

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Architecture/interior in addition to hotel/resort photography has its own visual vocabulary that has to be learnt, understood and later fashioned into meaningful sets of images. There are general dos and don’ts from an architectural perspective and it is the responsibility of the photographer to educate themselves about these aspects.

The strong Indian economy in recent years has lead to the augmentation in infrastructure projects in the Country.

India, among other mostly developing Countries, presents a unique challenge from the perspective that we are in a nascent stage of “visual literacy”, (i.e. the ability to read and decipher meanings in images).

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This should not surprise, as the measure of visual literacy is directly proportional to general literacy. Images, by the masses, are mainly seen as illustrations that showcase the depiction in the most obvious of ways, while the associative meanings and links end up evading most. In this regard, there are fundamental challenges to overcome, which become opportunities and successful moments when meanings in images are acknowledged and understood.

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“It has been observed by many that I am a detail oriented person,with an almost inexhaustible amount of patience. Willing to stay the course until the ‘right’ image has been captured.

One’s temperament goes hand in hand with the genres that one is best suited to work in—the glove must fit the hand !

I also have to keep changing hats–from sales and marketing,to accountant and negotiator. Only after that can I put the best hat of all–that of a professional photographer.”

The Novotel Project

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Novotel is one of the Hotel brands of Accor, a Hospitality group from France.

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With a need to standardize the look & feel of this brand, Accor provides guidelines in the form of “Photography Brand Styles” which clearly illustrates the how, where and when of photographing their hotels.

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The advantage of such an approach is that the brief is exhaustively clear and there is no room for ambiguity.

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While on the other hand, the freedom to interpret the assignment, by a Photographer, takes a back seat, which at times can ‘feel’ rather limiting.

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Photographing a hotel can range from a multi-day to a multi-week assignment.

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Add to that a hotel that is about to be launched with all types of operational simulations being carried out simultaneously, with certain areas still under construction – makes for a challenging assignment.