I met fine art and fashion photographer, Vikram Kushwah at the Other Art Fair. Vikram’s photographs are shot on various analogue cameras embracing the natural imperfections of the grain in the nature-scenes he often uses in his sets and styling. There's a romantic surrealist element to his work, which nods to the uncanny and somehow empowers his models in their escapist environments. He actually engages with his models before a shoot to understand their personal dreams, memories and nostalgia to set inspiration for the themes of their portraits. As a child he loved movies and the darker side of fairy tales, as an adult, he spends his time manifesting these conceptual ideas on film.
Vikram worked as an assistant photographer in Mumbai for a year, developing his unique style and practising the medium before moving to London to study an MA in Photography at UCA, Rochester. He has since received commissions from Harper’s Bazaar, India and Vogue, India as well as picking up a bronze at Cannes last year for the ‘Best in Photography’ section.
Which other photographers do you look to for inspiration and how have they helped you to develop your own style? I’ve always admired the work of American photographers Deborah Turbeville and Francesca Woodman for their monochrome photographs which have a heavily symbolic and surrealist quality to them. I find that both their styles have timeless, ethereal qualities quite like none other. In terms of how their influence has affected my own style… I seek to capture portraits that go deeper than the surface in the same way that they both did I suppose.
Do you always use professional models in your personal projects? No, certainly not… My wife and I style shoots together with actresses, writers anyone actually who has an interesting story to tell that I can capture in a fantastical way. We pick our subjects based on the work they do especially if it resonates with what I do. We aim to catch a darker side of half memories, rebuilding dreams in a way.
How do you create these floating images? I feel as though I am surrounded by vintage imagery blending parts from Alice-In-Wonderland, Mary Poppins and the Exorcist! So what’s your creative process, do you use PhotoShop or do you just have magic powers? Ha, no magic powers and no PhotoShop. These images have been staged in very complex sets. We use careful and elaborate staging’s and double exposures shot on medium format cameras. Before pressing the buttons, everything is already perfectly prepared and timed. The magic in my imagery is born from the Freudian theory of the UnCanny. My departure points are day-dreaming, galleries and my innocent beautiful childhood in India…
What do you love about what you do? I love the escapism that my work allows me from this cluttered world where destruction is so commonplace. Perhaps I am in denial of today’s media. I like to empower the people in my photographs and allow them to re-visit the magic of their childhood.
What are you working on at the moment? Well, I am working on a series, which I think is going to take some time, perhaps even a few years. It is happening one photograph at a time. It is so far unnamed but every picture has a dream-like quality to it. For example, my first photograph will be called, “The Day My Car Flew Away”… Chitty-Chitty-Bang-Bang is a favourite of mine. You’ll be able to see this work in the Saatchi Art on-line gallery when it’s completed so watch this space.