Ash Gupta 838 Media Group – Summer 2011 in Review

Summer in Review Cover, Photo by Ash Gupta 838MG

Summer brought with it a heat wave to Los Angeles, and a wave of creativity to 838MG.  The summer months were some of the busiest months at 838MG in a long time, and we were shooting almost every day, sometimes even more than one shoot a day!

Ash was deep in the artistic groove, and a lot of great new projects got underway. It was a combination of Ash’s passion projects finally coming to fruition, as well as a plethora of editorials, fashion films, and even a commercial. A lot of art, a lot of work, and all fun!

The summer started with the end of the International Indian Film Festival in Toronto, and Bollywood descended upon LA, so of course, their first stop was Ash Gupta and 838MG.

Gulshan Grover, Mallika Sherawat, Kangana Ranaut, Shilpa Shetty, Preity Zinta, Harman Baweja, and Bappi Lahiri, all came over for some chai, intellectual discussion over classical music, and of course some photographs. Needless to say, everyone at 838 is totally up-to-date with everything Bollywood. Seriously, quiz us.

We did a shoot and short behind-the-scenes film, with Mallika Sherawat, in anticipation of the Politics of Love release. It was a fun, playful day, and we were thrilled to have Mallika so cooperative and relaxed with us. Mallika also invited the members of 838MG to the release of Politics of Love at the Laemelle Theatre in Beverly Hills. Unsurprisingly, the movie was phenomenal: Mallika’s acting chops are showcased in their entirety, and the movie has garnered a lot of critical kudos.

Arambh, which in Hindi means “The Beginning,” is going to be a series of portraits in which the subject is stripped of any clothing. Once the label of the designer is taken away—consequently removing any pre-conceived notions—the model is left naked, literally and figuratively.  And then we take that bare vulnerability and use raw materials: scraps of cloth, pieces of wood, or shards of glass to enhance the raw emotions within the portrait.

“Hookers” is a project that exposes the double standard of clothing and the effect of labels . . . on being labeled. Shredded stockings and a leather bustier on the runway at a McQueen show will be labeled fashionable. Then, the next night, the same shredded stockings and leather bustier are seen on a girl at 3:00 AM at your local bus stop, and she’s immediately labeled a hooker. The juxtaposition is severe, and grittily stunning. We took a camera, one china-bulb, a couple of reflectors, and headed out to the neighborhood bus stop at midnight. Despite the circling LAPD, we got some sensational, stark but yet high fashion images.

FHM South Africa Featuring Laura Shields, Photo by Ash Gupta 838MG

For FHM South Africa, we did an editorial with the exquisite Laura Shields. It’s a piece about the removal of gender roles and the power of transformation. She starts out dressed as a young, cigar smoking boy; and slowly, as she loses her clothes, she morphs into a sexy starlet.

So a lot of our work in June and July was about the role of clothes in the way a person is perceived. In a way, we’re bringing to light, then adding a little twist, to the age-old adage “It’s not the clothes that make the (wo)man.”

Original Players is a project Ash has been conceptualizing for a while now, and we kicked it off with the incomparable Christine Davi, the 80s supermodel. The project is an homage to the icons that changed the world of fashion. Before the 80s fashion was centered on pop-culture, and it was this decade that introduced the glamor that has now become synonymous with fashion.

We also did a shoot to promote the jewelry of Krésha Bajaj and Karishma Desai. Their work is sophisticatedly intricate; each piece is a one-of-a-kind, and personally handmade by them.

Last year Ash started a project called “Angels vs. Demons,” and we picked it back up this summer.

For a while now, we’ve wanted to create a short film showcasing an 838MG fashion shoot, so we collaborated with some young, eager filmmakers and invited them to our “White Out” shoot at a Beverly Hills mansion. They got some amazing footage of how Ash works, and everything that goes into making a high profile shoot come to fruition. Eight models, all white fashion, and one king-sized couch. The possibilities were endless . . . and can we just say, it’s a lot of fun watching models catfight.

Oleander, an alternative rock band, will be featured in Agenda Magazine.   Ash and his team shot the editorial, which is due to run just prior to the album release in February 2012.  Ash played a big role in creating a visual image and he truly captured the the essence of this well-known band.  Oleander was looking for something different, and out of the box . . .  so obviously we accomplished that task! Ash took some construction paper, some slashed-up plastic sheets, and worked his magic.

Inspired by the summer heat, Ash wanted to shoot a lot of water work this month. He also wanted something muddy and playful, so we had our in-house make-up artist Maya Segirah play around with some ideas. Who knew regular old Jell-O gelatin and make-up dirt could create clothes? Apparently Maya did, and we had a lot of playground-style fun with her creations. Add in the effortlessly talented Laura Shields, Elena Bachurina, and Christy Nelson, and you can’t help but come up with brilliance.

Another water project we did was with our September Face of the Month, Anita. Fresh from Russia, Anita was excited to get involved in Los Angeles fashion and came to Ash for some new pictures. We’re not sure if she expected to be hosed down, but once she saw the final picture, she was thrilled. Vermillion Heat truly represents this past summer in LA.

Vivica Mitra came in for a shoot for Maxim India; and again, the summer heat allowed for some sexy but classy water images.

Rajashree Choudhary, wife of Bikram, the guru behind Bikram Yoga, came in for a new set of publicity photographs. She’s eternally graceful, humble, and a gem to work with. With natural beauty and elegance, she’s a photographer’s dream come true, and we had a wonderful shoot with her.

Melanie Kannokada, a rising actress from New York, came in for a portfolio shoot. She was tired of the same old images and wanted to try something new. So, we painted her up, and put on the angel wings, and started shooting. The images are beautiful, and as distinctive as you can ask for!

Raja Kumari, which means “Princess” in Hindi, came by for a portfolio shoot. She spearheaded a fresh new hybrid sound that fuses hip-hop, electro, and R&B with her classic Indian roots.The photographs truly capture the essence behind this first lady of BollyHood.

Late summer turned our attention towards fashion films, and we went all in. Almost every shoot we did had a video accompaniment, and we’ve been busy editing it all.

Angels vs Demons, Photo by Ash Gupta 838MG

A Burning Angel, with model Chihiro Niuya fresh from Japan follows the story of an Angel, fallen from grace, forced to watch her wings burn away.

Homage to Masters, a shoot focused on re-interpreting some of fashion’s most iconic images, with celebrity stylist Kendrick Osorio. We had two models, on separate nights to shoot four creations that were made specifically for this editorial. Ash always likes to do a shoot on 9/11 and this was the choice for this year.

We shot Laura Shields for Maxim, and Treats! And all we say is that the images almost brought the heat wave back to LA. HOT! We also did a fashion-film with her. It’s a high-concept, abstract piece based around trying to break free of the world you’re born into, but eventually being happy with your surroundings.

Paso Prime, one of the premiere grass-fed beef companies in California, and Guido Campellone asked us to shoot their commercial “Farm to Fashionable,” and you can only have good things happen when you put fashion and steak in one place. Special thanks to Misfit in Santa Monica and The Sunset in Malibu for letting us shoot at their restaurants.

The Flare is a fashion editorial we recently did with three models, Kira Dikhtyar, Lili, and Chihiro Niuya. Ash was tired of shooting the same old backgrounds and decided to change it up by shooting them with a single flare behind them.

SheetalSheth, a sweetheart of the indie-film circuit, came by for a shoot in anticipation of her Three Veils film. We booked the Congo Room in Downtown LA for a high fashion shoot.

It was time for the next Face of the Month, and we picked Vision model Nastassia Lindes for a 6-page editorial and interview in Agenda Magazine.

Also, over the summer we published some of our work. The first is a coffee table book called Reportoire, a 438-page cross-section of Ash’s images over the past decade.

Secondly, we published Saviour. It’s a story about the journey of a relationship, book-ended by the classic roles of Saviour and Savage. It’s dark, it’s edgy, and it’s intense. Simply put, it’s a masterpiece.

All in all it was a super busy and creative summer, and we’re grateful to everyone who helped us make it happen!

Check out the “Summer 2011 in Review” editorial.

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