Aanchal Wadhwani is a a 25 year old fashion photographer, art director, entrepreneur and actress born and raised in Hong Kong. To keep it short, she is a creative that simply enjoys self-expression through different outlets.
When did you know you wanted to be a photographer?
I never planned on a career as a photographer. It was serendipity. I always knew I would be doing something in the creative world but when the time came for me to further my education, I found myself in love with the world of fashion.
My journey began when I was 16, during my first year majoring in fashion design. I created designs that I would lend to stylists or photographers. Simultaneously, I had an interest in Photoshop and it was love at first touch. I spent a lot of my free time mastering the software and began retouching images for professional photographers shortly after.
Through that process I made a lot of contacts with models, makeup & hair artists, photographers and stylists all of whom eventually encouraged me to venture into photography.
I got myself a camera at the age of 17 and my first shoot was for my own collection. Eventually my work had been seen by brands, magazines and agencies which led to my career as a photographer.
What is the most important at the moment you take a picture?
I’m a photographer but also a story-teller. I believe my strength lies in my concepts. I want my images to add value to the brand or magazine I photograph rather than just showcase the clothing, product or makeup for what it is.
Therefore, the most important thing for me is that the models I commission for the project fully fit the aesthetic, are able to portray the emotions and take on the character!
From where you get your inspiration
My best ideas come to me either in the shower or just before I fall asleep. I end up jumping out of bed or running out of the shower to draw thumbnails on paper in case I forget! Once I have an idea, I search up references of paintings and photos for a similar topic or theme to see how other artists have approached it and fine tune my concept that way.
How do you look for the perfect spots?
Most of my work is in the studio, so my team and I usually come up with a set design for each concept. However, there are times where we do shoot outdoors, in which case we spend a lot of time researching locations that fit the concept!
Describe a typical shoot.
The process of creating an image begins with concept development and research. If I am working with a commercial brand, it’s really important for my team to understand the target market and the goals of each company before producing a set of images. With an editorial, we create a story line that we follow through the entire editorial frame by frame.
After coming up with a concept, my team and I work together to actualize the set design, makeup & hair ideas, clothing references, model casting, and all the little details that makes the image. During the shoot we make sure everything is coming across perfectly and finally fine tune the photos in post production before delivering the images to the client.
Were you educate in photography, or are yourself taught?
I never took any courses in photography. I don’t intend to either because personally I learn better through trial and error and that way my aesthetic and creativity develop as well.
What camera do you use most of the time?
Mostly I use the Canon 5D Mark 4.
Which photo are you currently most proud of?
My favorite images are the personal projects I work on because they truly express my deepest thoughts and emotions. Also there are so many memories that we create on set!
It’s hard to choose my favorite work. I am still so in love my editorial for 10 Magazine – ‘La Vie En Bleu’. It took a lot of work to create those looks but it was worth it!
I also love one of my editorials ‘The Bride Wars’ which was published in All About Wedding Magazine and behind the scenes was filmed by Channel NewsAsia. It was the first time working with bridal dresses and it took some time to develop the idea away from traditional wedding shoots.
I try to work on personal projects as much as possible but with a busy schedule I usually find the time to do it at the end of the year! I’m currently in the process of retouching my latest personal project.
How is the fashion Industry in Hong Kong?
In reality the fashion industry here is quite restricted. There are limitations in the way creatives are allowed to present their ideas or sell a product. Additionally, there are too many companies or magazines locally that prefer to have an image exactly the same as their competitors.
However, Hong Kong is an international hub with a lot of international brands based here. I am lucky to have a market where I work with brands from all over the world and create images targeting different mindsets and tastes.
Comparing where you are now with where you are when you first started, what could you has done differently to get to where you are sooner?
If I could go back in time and give my younger self some pointers, I would probably tell myself to create what I truly love, to experiment more in different areas of photography and to spend more time learning how to market my work.
Favorite photography book?
One of my biggest inspirations entering the photography world was Tim Walker. I love the surreal, dramatic and original images he creates!
Tell us about Matryoshka Studio
‘Matryoshka Studio’ actually started as a jewelry brand I started at 16. It was just ‘Matryoshka’ back then. I had created several jewelry collections and photographed the look book and campaign photos myself.
Over time as photography became more prominent in my life, my jewelry brand gradually turned into a production company and has now become ‘Matryoshka Studio’.
Initially, the services I offered my clients covered everything photography related including model scouting, makeup and hair artists, styling, retouching, studio, location scouting, props, and art direction. Early last year, my team and I expanded to videography where we included campaign videos, behind the scene footage, interviews, documentaries, fashion films and many more types of videography.
I hope that in the coming 2018 we can expand to offer different services and work with more companies globally!
Tell us about Academy of Design in Hong Kong
I started Academy of Design with a friend, now my business partner, who had been studying fashion design with me. We both experienced different institutes besides the one we mutually studied in, realized that there are too little options for foreigners in Hong Kong and the costs of studying design in English was too high. I am lucky to be fluent in Cantonese but not everyone can speak the language and many give up on their creative dreams because of the costs.
Therefore, we decided to open the Academy of Design which offers affordable long term programs in design, short courses in particular modules like pattern making & sewing, embroidery, photography as well as workshops which are 1 – 2 days long. All of our courses are offered in either English or Cantonese and have industry experts coming in to conduct the classes.
It has been amazing to be able to work with fresh minds and help them on their journey!
To know more about Aanchal, please visit: Matryoshka Studios