FASHION PRODUCTION INSIGHTS: MATRYOSHKA STUDIO
Founded by photographer, actress and entrepreneur Aanchal Wadhwani, Hong Kong-based full-service photography production agency Matryoshka Studio works on a wide range of fashion, beauty and advertorial projects. With over seven years of industry experience, Wadhwani has put together a team of experts consisting of art directors, photographers, videographers, makeup artists, hair stylists, fashion stylists, retouchers and scouters, and has since added some a-list collaborations in her agency’s portfolio – see Elle, L’Officiel India and Topshop, to name a few. Read on as Wadhwani elaborates on starting her own company, working across the entire range of creative production and branching out to offer fashion-related courses.
What is your background and what you were doing before establishing your agency?
I started my journey at the age of 16, when I began studying fashion design, which was the same time I started my jewelry brand called “Matryoshka.” It was during that time that I was introduced to 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. I got myself a camera at the age of 17, and my first shoot was for my jewelry brand. Eventually, my photos were seen by a modeling agency, and my career sky rocketed from there. Over time, as photography became more prominent in my life, my jewelry brand gradually turned into a production company and has now become ‘Matryoshka Productions’.
You work across a range of creative photography. How do you manage all directions?
I love being able to have an unrestricted canvas to unleash my creativity! Although my first and foremost love is fashion photography; probably because I understand that industry very well, having taken two degrees in fashion, but I also love shooting for beauty, products as well as portraits.
I have to credit my wonderful team that works with me on different projects. It is definitely easier to manage and care for each project having other people involved!
You have worked with many established names within the industry. How would you describe your collaboration, and how much willing they were to take risks in the final project?
It really depends on the project. If I am shooting a commercial project for an established company, my team and I have to be aware of the boundaries we can cross and the brand image we need to maintain. If I am shooting a creative project, the risks I can take are much higher and I can introduce wild ideas through my images. I am really lucky to be able to work with artists that put in 200% in every shoot. They are fully present from the initial concept development to the actual shoot day, which I love and I believe that makes my final photos extra special!
I have noticed that you have many collaborators – from photographers to scouters. How do you find the perfect match between them and your clients?
I have different team members for different projects, as each creative involved have their own strengths and weaknesses. Therefore, I work with freelancers a lot and developed a roster of talented individuals in the fields of makeup, hair, wardrobe, lighting, video, retouching, model agents, etc.
What has been the most memorable campaign, which put you on the fashion industry map, you have worked so far?
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 newest editorials “The Bride Wars” which was recently published in All About Wedding Magazine and behind the scenes was filmed by Channel News Asia. It was the first time working with bridal dresses, and it took some time to develop the idea away from traditional wedding shoots.
Do you work with emerging brands as well? How do you approach this collaboration in order for them to stand out in the market?
Yes I do! I really enjoy working with emerging labels, because I can help them create images that set them apart from their competition. I’m a photographer but also a story-teller. I believe my strength lies in my concepts through which clients can share their brand journey, collection story or inspiration with their target audience. I want my images to add value to the products I photograph rather than just showcase it for what it is. I like to challenge myself, and new brands give me the opportunity to create fresh concepts while still appealing to the commercial market.
How do social media affect your online presence?
In this day and age, social media plays a large role in reaching new clients. Platforms like Facebook, Instagram and LinkedIn act like an online portfolio, but they also help me reach potential clients easily. It’s very convenient and really helpful as well.
You also offer fashion-related courses. Tell us a bit about how this decision came about.
I started Academy of Design with a friend who had been studying fashion design with me. We both experienced different institutes besides the one we mutually studied in and 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, my friend and I decided to open the Academy of Design which offers affordable long term programs in design, short courses in particular modules like pattern making and sewing, embroidery, photography as well as workshops which are one- or two-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!
What are some goals you would like to achieve within 2017?
I would love to open up my career globally. I’d love to work with creatives from different parts of the world!
Images © Matryoska Studio