In the past year of deep ambiguity and anxiety, we have been and will continue to be deeply commited to our mission, readers, brides, couples, families, vendors, and wedding community. It was very important to the entire team at Maharani Weddings, to have a cover that stood out and embraced the moment of weddings during a pandemic. Simply because the weddings of 2020 were unstoppable. Defying everything we know about tradition and dreams, this was one example of love in the purest, most human form. As a company we feel a deep gratitude to all the people involved. From the turmoil for couples, vendors constantly having to change directions, and parents being unable to attend their own children's nuptials, we knew we needed a cover that reflected the emotional state of everyone involved. We sat down with the creative mind and photographer of the shoot Priyanca Rao, to gain some insight on how she created this phenomenal cover.
Shawna : Where did you come up with the inspiration for the shoot?
Priyanca : 2020 has been a really rough year for so many, especially couples who have had to cancel their dream weddings due to Pandemic. I want to honor their stories and also encourage some introspection.
Shawna : Is this your first time being a stylist and photographer for a cover shoot? Tell me about your creative process.
Priyanca : Yes it is! My photography style is primarily photojournalistic, which means I like to document wedding stories and real moments. Although I have a fashion and styling background, I only take on editorial projects that have a strong message and that are deep. My initial conversations with Shawna, the editor-in-chief from Maharani weddings was so inspiring. She was looking to produce a cover that was different and relevant to the times. This immediately aligned with my beliefs with what a Pandemic magazine cover should be, one that is truthful and real. I also wanted to create photos that would evoke a range of emotions for the viewers, based on their experiences during the pandemic. Emotions ranging from uncertainty to isolation and glamour to humor. Everyone should be able to self-reflect on what this time meant to them.
Shawna : How did you choose the vendors you worked with?
Priyanca : Karuna Chani who contributed as the make-up artist and hairstylist for this cover has great vision and firm beliefs. Our energy is very compatible, which is important for a cover collaboration. Her attention to detail and artistry is something I admire greatly. Karuna worked on heavy smoky eyes to bring fucus to Neena's (model) eyes, especially since Neena was going to be in a mask. I picked outfits from Abhinav Mishra, a New Delhi based designer. His work is modern and has a sense of lightness and fun that balances the heavy message of the photos. Reena Mathur from ReeMat Designs collaborated with beautiful bridal jewelry. The champagne colored bling complimented the look beautifully. We put the shoot together in two days! I used my husband's wedding outfits that I designed myself for our wedding. Neena and Jason are a real couple whose wedding I photographed literally two weeks prior to this cover shoot. I wanted to keep things real and have real models. They were totally themselves and rocked out a cover like pro's!
Shawna : What about the shoot stands out to you?
Priyanca : I love that it was very organic, very honest and validating the feelings of so many people who have been through a rough pandemic.
Shawna : The crown is so clever. Tell us about it!
Priyanca : Haha!! Well I have a very dry sense of humor, and I couldn't help myself especially since Corona means Crown. The crown symbolizes that we need to find what it takes, sometimes even humor to keep us going and make it to the finish line.
Shawna : What advice do you have for 2021 brides and future brides? What have you learned from coronavirus as it applies to weddings?
Priyanca : This down time has given us all some time to re-think the significance of weddings. Traditions dictate what we must do, but listen to your hearts and let it dictate what is meaningful to you. Who, why and what do you really want at your wedding and incorporate them into your celebration in a bold way.
If 2020 and 2021 has taught me anything, it is okay to be sad, angry and disheartened. But eventually I learned to be grateful for not just the big things, but the little things I take for granted. I am especially grateful to have the support of so many friends in the wedding industry, and clients who turned out to become friends- Neena and Jason included (cover models).
Shawna : In your mind, what does the shoot represent?
Priyanca : The images from this cover shoot represent self-reflection and soul searching. In a time of adversity when you have no control over anything, what should your wedding really signify?
To all the vendors and our models, Neena & Jason, thank you so much for your contribution for this very important cover issue of Maharani Weddings. Cheers to the biggest, best, most meaningful weddings in 2021!