For every fashion photographer who manages to get a foot in the door of a top magazine or fashion house, a thousand others have to make do in fashion advertising, celebrity portraiture or paparazzi work. I was quite young when I started assisting my neighbour, who was a photographer. What started out as work for pocket money soon became a lucrative career.
One of my first independent assignments was for the film Baazi. The pictures I shot of Aamir got widely published in the glossies of the time. Aamir and I got friendly and went on to do several more shoots and I have never looked back. Even though Aamir gave me my first break, it is Salman who made me more famous. Salman is extremely arrogant and careless while posing, he has no fear and no respect for the camera. And that makes for some very, very good pictures. It was exhilarating.
Working for a fashion brand is not the same as working with a top fashion designer or design house. A guy who is interested simply in showing off the sari is quite finicky about how his product is displayed. But a Manish Malhotra or Sabyasachi give you faith. They give you complete creative freedom.
It’s who you associate with rather than the actual shot that matters at the end. People may not remember the images I took of Aamir during Baazi, but they remember I shot Aamir Khan. That’s what counts.
A film star may not always look good or be in a good mood. It’s up to the photographer to use lighting, make-up and whatever else to ensure the shot looks great. With a model, you never have those worries. They always look perfect on shoots and are extremely professional. Then again, models are not really household names and are only in the business for so long. Whereas with film stars, a good shoot can take you years ahead in terms of work.
This line of work is a lot like cricket. The more you play, the more experience you get, and the more experience you get, the better player you become. The funny thing about success is that the more successful you get, the more you enjoy your work because you get better equipment, better names and people to work with.
(This fashion photographer has been in the profession for 14 years and owns his own photography business)
As told to Aliefya Vahanvaty