Purvi Shah advocates a vegan and sustainable lifestyle while presenting vegan food to everyone like never seen before.
If there is one thing that can always make us pause and spend hours at a single place, it has to be food. Food happens to be the heart and soul of our existence and no one will deny that. It is also something that has the ability to entice us without it actually being presented to us physically. We have all been through that moment when our hand automatically reached out to click on Zomato or Swiggy after watching a video of a delicious plate of street food. You know what’s not easy? Make people develop a craving for their favorite foods while watching a video or a photograph. It requires careful execution to make every food look appealing and food stylist Purvi Shah knows how.
A Pune based food stylist and photographer, Purvi Shah has the entire internet drooling over her aesthetic and mouth-watering food content. Purvi who completed her master’s degree worked for a few years in the corporate world. But she always knew that she never belonged there. If there was anything that made her feel free and like home was her love for food and photography.
The creator who makes any and every dish look delicious now leads a vegan sustainable lifestyle. She took up veganism after learning about animal cruelty a few years ago. Switching over to being a vegan lifestyle wasn’t easy and made her spend a lot of time with food. “My food then took up a significant amount of time in my daily life. I got so engrossed in this journey that it has become my identity today.”
Her journey towards becoming a vegan opened up a new door into content creation. She has been a vegan for the past 7 years, and eventually found her passion in “Food Styling & Food Photography.”. “I advocate a vegan and sustainable lifestyle in my own unique way by presenting vegan food to everyone like never seen before.”
Purvi has something to ‘taco’ about her journey so far:
How did you find your love for food styling and photography?
I uploaded my first Instagram food post on DECEMBER 2, 2019. I had nothing to do with photography until that day, but the art of photography helped me find myself, my peace, my strength, and to build a world where I am confident, strong, and independent.
While the majority of the world isn’t happy with the lockdown, it came as an opportunity for me. Almost every day I would wake up with a lot of excitement to make food that most people wouldn’t even believe is possible. I mean it, each day I would plan how can I prepare something like “Gajar ka halwa or Gulab Jamun” without using any dairy products. I would spend hours learning, experimenting and once the food is ready hours will go in Styling the setup for the shoot. Depending on the food I design a theme that aligns with the cuisine, colours, occasion, and the whole backstory and now the time comes for the most exciting part shoot, at length, I would experiment with lights, angles, lenses, and props to capture the food in a way that enables the viewer to imagine the taste of the food while looking at the pictures.
It’s more exciting than it reads here, it offers me the opportunity to live in the present, not past not future, just being in the present.
What does your creative process look like? How do you decide on a theme?
As mentioned, Depending on the food I design a theme that aligns with the cuisine, colours, occasion, and the whole backstory. Over a period of time, I have come to terms with what Edward de Bono said; “Creativity involves breaking out of established patterns in order to look at things in a different way.” Hence now I don’t follow the pattern of planning my shoots in advance which allows me to keep room for creativity.
Each day once the food is ready I bring it into the studio space and then decide the props, the mood, the theme, and the ambience. My studio is filled with a lot of utensils, props, flowers, etc. Depending on the food, I select the props and decide on whether I want a bright or dark theme. After that comes styling. I always start with minimal props and add only if necessary. All my props or elements in the frame are always completely related to the food on the table and are playing an important role in the storytelling.
How would you describe your aesthetic or style as?
I keep my style very homely as my goal is to bring vegan food on every plate in our daily life. I keep it very simple and realistic in terms of aesthetics. All of my visuals are well-balanced in terms of colour, and each cuisine brings its own elements into the frame. For example, the Indian cuisines come with spices and festive relevancy and seasonal cuisines come with their own colors from nature.
Which part of the whole process do you find most exciting?
Editing is my favourite task. It is the last stage before I share the visual with my client or the world. In this final phase, I set a balanced narrative for the visuals and contrast each component. An imperfect edit can undo all your hard work in preparing food, styling, and shooting, whereas a superb edit can bring out the best in it. Editing is the finishing touch that brings my vision to life.
Do you have a favourite shoot from the one you have done so far?
It’s really difficult to choose a favorite as each shoot brings its own challenges and offers unique opportunities for learning. The most challenging one is my favourite since it allows me to experiment more. Recently, I worked on a commercial project for a tea brand where I had to shoot and style different teas every single day for two months. It was an empowering project that challenged me in every aspect, whether styling, creativity, or photography.
Who or where do you find your inspiration from?
Animal cruelty and climate change drive my passion to follow a sustainable vegan lifestyle. I am determined to make a difference and advocate for the changes. As a photographer, I am inspired by the peace of mind, it allows me to live in the present moment, which is a meditative state. It has helped me tremendously with my mental health, and that is what helps me do my job well.
What are the five tips one should take care of when styling food to make it look more appetizing?
1: Bring Life to the Frame: Show yourself or model in the frame to make the visuals lively.
2: Light is up: Control your lighting right, it’s like storytelling, where do you want viewers to focus.
3: Pick your Props right: Too much will mess it up and too might leave views blank.
4: Do it differently: You can’t change too much but you can change a lot in the presentation.
5: Paint it right: Colours will bring all the ingredients out and this is your way to make people feel the taste of it.
If you are looking to adopt a vegan and a more sustainable lifestyle then check out Purvi’s aesthetic page.