A little about Vikram, in his own words, from his website:
Have been a photographer for as long as I can remember. Though turned professional 13 years back. Photography campaigns for a broad range of products and brands from Jewelry to Cars to Airlines. Specialise in Fashion and People photography. Always try and bring an element of fashion to all my shoots. Of late celebrities and film stars seem to be in my kitty. Have worked with most magazines in India. At last count 300+ odd covers across different magazines.
Directed and shot a couple of short films.
“Yahaan Gandhi Bikta Nahin’, a short film on Gandhi in present dat has been part of a traveling exhibition to art galleries in the country.
Published a coffee table quarterly ‘Twisted Heads’
The first photographer in India to do 3D Photography and something I call disappearing photography.
Have won approximately 7 international awards other than honorable mentions.
Just won an international award for my campaign for Skoda Automobile and another international award with acclaimed artists from our country.
Also mentioned amongst the top 5 most important people in the photography industry in India since the last 4 years.
Why are you a photographer?
This is a tough one.. My standard line to everyone generally has been that ‘ I was unemployed’ but on a serious note, I don’t think I have a reason… guess it’s in my blood. Mum and Dad were very good photographers, but casual photographers, nothing serious, though they had some beautiful images to their credit. Somewhere around 15, I discovered my love for photography, which, by the time I was 23 had become an obsession, to a point where I carried my camera to the loo and actually still sleep with it beside me, just in case I get an idea. And at 26 i got a chance to do it full time.. so here i am.
Do you remember any decisive moment when you felt ‘I want to be a photographer’?
There were many, but this moment is too long and complicated to put down on paper… but it was at the age of 20 i think, when i knew this is what i want to do for the rest of my life..
Were there any particular role models for you when you grew up?
There were so many.. I’m a voracious reader of photography books, magazine and have been continuously been influenced by everyone from an amateur, to other professionals, life itself, movies, my parents,..
Who was the most influential personality on your career in photography?
Mum, Dad and then Preeti & Gayatri Bedi (Mitter Bedi’s daughters), for their guidance and support, and Girish Mistry for opening my eyes to see ‘light’, In recent years though David LaChapelle, Eugenio Recuenco, Herb Ritts… so many people and things around.. need to thank so many of them.
How has photography changed over the course of the last couple of decades? Is execution/art direction more important than it used to be?
From capturing the moment and capturing emotions and personalities, we’ve moved drastically into imaginative story telling.. But this is as far as the international market is concerned. In India we are still at the aping the west scenario. The art direction and creative’s we see a lot are mostly copied, scanned, mostly lifted and recreated. There is so much unnecessary emphasis on digital mixing, digital cut and paste that the work does not seem to belong to a photographer. There is no sense of personal style. Looks more like an art directors portfolio. The thing most lacking is a sense of style. I can only count on a couple of photographers in India who have a distinctly strong sense of style.
There are very few instances of actually coming up with something unique, especially india centric.. Though it has at times become easier with a clearer thought process going into shoots.
What do you think of the current state of Print Advertising photography in India? Is it at par with the work done worldwide?
Very bad!! In terms of photography and lighting we are very good. Equal to the best. But in terms of application, thought process, budgets, style we are very lacking and sadly mediocre. We do not understand that print is the pinnacle of Fashion in the world. Photography makes a brand and style statement for anything from cars, people, clothes, buildings, anything.. Can’t blame the creative’s only. It is a matter of educating the client to what can be achieved using print and the importance of it. Which most agencies are scared to push lest they lose the client. One of the reasons why MNC’s with hi end products like cars, fashion don’t shoot with us. They still prefer a foreign photographer.
There is a certain sense of stylization in your work. It’s almost like a signature. Where do you get your inspiration?
Everywhere.. I take things from life, from what I see, I hear…
Mostly I have realized that I do not want to do any mediocre work.. If I do a shoot and I cannot look at the pictures again, they were not worth wasting time over. I want to create IMAGES, every picture should be worth putting up, otherwise I’ve demeaned my art form and gift… I have many times not done a shoot because i did not agree with the clients nature, thought process, or whatever doesn’t agree with my sensibility. Though I’m not infallible. My obsession to detail before the actual shoot maybe shows at times.
Tell us something about your award winning works. Especially the wonderful work which won at PX3 Prix De La Photographie Paris.
I’ve been lucky that I have clients and friends who now understand my style and give me the freedom and choice to create images the way I want to. We have a creative partnership with Skoda, wherein I create fashion images using their product range as part of the image. They sponsor my shoots and my creativity. In return they use the pics as a showcase at Lakme Fashion Week, internally with their international counterparts and as part of their group calendar. It gives the team at Skoda and us both a chance to showcase our creativity other than the regular boring advertisements. The Runaway superhero, was one of those series which was awarded the 3rd best Automotive Campaign award.
7 years back i had done a series with superhero’s, which luckily for me is still remembered by some of my clients. The images we created were loosely created on that series. The thought process was that even a superhero uses a Skoda Superb. We put him in a modern Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge style Bollywood movie, where he is running away with the bride, making out and then dumping her finally, all using the Superb. I have been lucky to have a good team of makeup artists, stylists, designers to back me up on my shoots. One of my most fun shoots. In fact the new one is better than this.. or maybe completely different than this one.
Also have received another award from PX3 for a fashion shoot/campaign which we created for TBZ jewellery.
Was there any time when you wanted to quit photography?
Yes a few years back. I was very frustrated with the type of work that was being asked for or being done by clients/ agencies. Somewhere down the line I realized my mind cannot do the typical straight boring images. I can create complicated pictures. And I slowly moved away from the regular work that was happening and that didn’t agree with me. But i’m glad i didn’t give up.
Any current work in Indian Advertising that you find exciting? Especially Print?
Can’t remember off hand… Nothing current i guess, But there have been some in the past..
Whats your dream project?
Don’t really have ‘A’ particular dream project. For me every new good job, where i’m allowed a free hand is a dream project. My dream though is to be an art photographer, shooting for myself, what i want to, how i want to. Though i’d definitely like to work on Lavazza and the Pirelli Calendars.
Who would you want to spend a dinner with?
hmmmm.. must be the toughest question.. but would be an anticlimax actually. I live for the day. So whoever i am with is my dream dinner date..
Whats on your iPod?
Everything from rock, country, pop, world music, hyms, to love aaj kal and the likes. Not particularly a huge fan of trance or heavy metal. Anything that’s uplifting and peppy.. Has to charge me up and make me feel positive. No sad songs…
Mac or PC?
Ah!!! Mac for its interface, PC for its adaptability. Right now on the latest custom made, i7 processor based PC’s ( they are the latest. Not even with mac. 7 cores.. )
You can reach Vikram through his website here.