How Restore founder Nandi Shah turned to photography

Like other achievements in Nandi Shah’s life, the most recent one can also be traced back to her love for food. And her love for her roots. The founder of Restore, Chennai-based Nandi has been educating the city about organic foods and local varieties of produce for years. Research and business skills aside, Nandi is now being recognised for more artistic reasons, having displayed a collection of her photographs at the recently-concluded India Design ID.

India Design ID, a luxury design week held in Delhi every year, featured artists handpicked by Apparao Galleries — among many others — in this edition. Nandi was among those approached by Sharan Apparao for her photographs: a feat unto itself, considering the fact that she is a self-taught photographer.

How Restore founder Nandi Shah turned to photography

“I picked up the DSLR only for my food blog, about two or three years ago. Aside from some help figuring out camera settings — which I am grateful for — I figured everything else on my own. Lines, lighting, framing...” she says. So it is no surprise that she never took compliments about her photography seriously, not until she was approached by Sharan. One look at her photographs, however, make the reason behind the choosing fairly clear.

How Restore founder Nandi Shah turned to photography

The Still Life, as her series is called, features just that — still after still of quaintly plated food and traditional utensils. Set to bare, dark backdrops, there is something in them that is reminiscent of classical paintings, and that something is very deliberate. “As a student of Fine Arts, I used to primarily do watercolours. With this series, I wanted to do still life with an Indian accent,” explains Shah. So, the style of her imagery is inspired by the Dutch masters of painting, even as the subjects stay unwaveringly Indian.

How Restore founder Nandi Shah turned to photography

The food in the photographs is hers, as are all the utensils — “I love not only old recipes, but also old objects of brass and patina.” With the quiet dignity contained in the former and a tinge of nostalgia provided by the latter, the mood throughout each image is uniform, and soothingly nostalgic. “I have always loved to style my food, so styling and plating comes naturally to me,” says Shah, and she has a brass tray filled with pink-and-gold potpourri-esque rosebuds to back her claim.

But that image is a fairly recent one — Shah admits that her photography was not this fine when she had first started out. The growth in her personal style of photography can be visibly traced through the her blog posts over the past three years... “In the colour, designs, lines, style... we are all constantly growing as people,” she concludes.

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Printable version | Jun 13, 2021 8:41:09 PM |

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