When I got the call asking me if I wanted to shoot the new Miss America Nina Davuluri, I thought "Let me guess, a media frenzied event with a bunch of other photographers somewhere right?" Turns out, it was an exclusive interview for entertainment web-site THZ (The Hot Zone). Exclusive. Which just meant host Jason Robinson and myself as photographer. I said yes of course and soon found myself nervous. She's not just Miss America, she's the first of Indian descent. A fact that caused a lot of uproar for some. Those ignorant few still out there with their racist, ancient, semi retarded perspectives on what being an "American" means. Nina represents ALL that's American so, for me, shooting her was much more than just shooting any Miss America. She's a part of history. A ground breaker and quite significant to Americans and to her Indian heritage. We shot at a restaurant/lounge in the city called Pranna. A spacious, absolutely gorgeous place. I had about a 15 minute time slot with her and wasn't too sure about what if any restrictions were in place regarding the shots I could take. In my mind, if I had my way, I very much wanted to set something up with her sitting down, scoffing down a HUGE cheeseburger with a basket of fries and a Coke on the table! Oh and of course, a HUGE slice of apple pie on the table. All things "American!" Maybe even get her to wear a fitted Yankees cap! Well, that fantasy came to an end. Wasn't going to happen. So, I did a pretty basic set up using 2 lights. I had maybe 5 minutes to shoot her before she was off to her next stop. We shot in the lounge upstairs which overlooked the restaurant from above. A huge chandelier of all glass and illuminated round bulbs hung in the middle of the space and I wanted to have the lights in the back. I think it came out pretty nice. Below is a shot of my assistant for the day prior to having the 2 lights on. Just metering for that background and adjusting shutter speed.
Nina is absolutely beautiful and incredibly nice. Was truly a pleasure working with her albeit for such a short amount of time. We did discuss perhaps doing the "All American" shoot sometime in the future. So, who knows! Fingers crossed!
Below is a shot of Pranna owners, Payal and Dajiv Sharma. Many thanks to them for letting us use the space. Pranna is located at 79 Madison Ave. at 28th St. New York.