Mumbai-based Frenchman Fabien Charuau is the go-to photographer for top interior decorators, architecture studios and real estate firms in India. His client list includes Ritu Nanda, Shabnam Gupta, Ashiesh Shah, Rustomjee Constructions Private Ltd., Lodha Group, among others. He has also photographed the homes of Deepika Padukone and Alia Bhatt.
The photographer has accomplished all this and more since he moved to Mumbai five years ago. “I first came to India in the 90s as a tourist. In the last 10 years, I have made several trips to India and liked the scene here. I have a lot of friends and thought it would be nice to spend more time here and one day, I never left,” shares Charuau, on how he made Mumbai his home.
Charuau has been a photographer for nearly two decades now. Initially, he focused on fashion photography and advertising assignments. How did he make the shift to interiors?
“I don’t know how it happened, but over the years I got opportunities to shoot different things. I started shooting more and more interiors. Initially, I didn’t push it too much, but I had a real connect with this kind of photography and now, I only shoot interior spaces and architecture,” shares the photographer.
He is also an artist and has showcased his work, A Thousand Kisses Deep at Chatterjee & Lal in 2015. Currently, he is working on a project on the streets of Mumbai.
The French man loves Indian heritage and architecture and says it is one of the reasons why he decided to move to Mumbai. “The style and the taste are very different in India. There are homes that are very maximalist and have a lot of texture and objects that are really cool. I shot a very beautiful house in Juhu, which had the very best of furniture, all imported from Italy,” states Charuau.
“At the same time, there are others that celebrate Indian heritage. I have worked a lot with architect Ashiesh Shah who incorporates these elements in his work which I love. There is a certain elegance to Indian heritage and I really love shooting this kind of design.”
City of Contrasts Shooting in Mumbai is a very unique experience for Charuau because he could be shooting in the streets in the morning and in the evening he could be shooting a home where there is a swimming pool, indoor sauna, etc. and is intrigued by the contrast.
When Charuau takes up an assignment, he reaches the place with a blank slate. “I don’t go there with preconceived notions. I welcome the experience of being in a new space and this informs the way I am going to shoot. I really look forward to the discovery in terms of lighting, mood and volume from a particular space. There is a lot of stuff that one needs to look at.”
Creating memories For Charuau, shooting the veteran architect B.V Doshi in Ahmedabad for ELLE Decor (who has won the 2018 Pritzker Prize, the Nobel equivalent in architecture) was a memorable assignment. The artist-cum-photographer also loved shooting Premabai Hall, designed by B.V. Doshi in Ahmedabad. The cultural hall closed down in the 90s.
“There were layers and layers of dust in the place since it hasn’t been used for a long time, but it is an amazing space. The concrete structure and its architecture are amazing. I was really moved by the space and connected to it,” shares Charuau.
He also picks shooting actress Deepika Padukone’s home in Worli, Mumbai as one of his favourite assignments. “Interior Designer Vinita Chaitanya has done a very good job of the space and you get into the psyche of the actress when you visit her home. I feel spaces reveal a lot about the owner’s personality. It was interesting to compare her home and learn more about her apart from watching her on the screen,” shares Charuau. “I wish I could share the photos with you, but they are confidential,” he adds.
Here are a few more homes that Charuau has photographed that serve as decor inspiration.