The Master of the Storyboard - Vickky Idnaani

Only a few photographers can tell a story like Vickky Idnaani. Based in Mumbai, Vickky is a vivacious lifestyle, celebrity, and fashion photographer, whose pictures capture intimate moments and grand spectacles with practised patience and care. One of the most intriguing aspects of Idnaani’s photography is the wide variety of styles he utilises and subjects he photographs.

You specialise in portraits and fashion – what is it you find so fascinating about people?
I love to photograph people. I find every area of people’s photography extremely captivating. Recently I visited Kolkata – a place I always wanted to go but couldn’t – and I took some great pictures at the underground metro at Kalighat. People are nicely placed in certain sections of the frame and I find those moments where people are in their own world equally compelling. I love how real the people were, and the setup was real, too. It was amazing how pictures can transport you somewhere else for the briefest of moments.

Taking pictures of celebrities is a different ball game altogether. I’ve worked with big stars on various projects and how they contribute to making their own picture is equally amazing. Some people have a beautiful smile, some have a glint in the eyes; it has always been working with people that enable me to capture feelings and unique characters. Fashion too allows me to create stories and narratives within my work.

What are the key ingredients to successful portrait photography?
I would say that the key ingredient to any kind of photography is a passion for your subject – be it fashion, portrait, or street. I can give you two episodes which will give you a wider perspective. The personal sense of aesthetic is the most important part of portrait photography. Some people like to shoot it as a beauty shot and others try to get the essence the aura, the different mood and vibe of the picture. I, on the other hand, try to keep it a healthy mix where I don’t change the person’s personality and not overpower it with my signature style, however, I add my tadka to it. It’s the ability to relate and build a rapport with your subject that matters. Apart from this, staying true to my photographic identity and voice has been the most important part. Without a unique voice, you won’t be able to stand out in today’s marketplace. It’s about capturing a stunning and emotive portrait that evokes feelings in the viewers and captivates their attention.

My last portrait was of Hema Malini ji for her magnum opus biography Beyond the Dreamgirl written by noted journalist
Ram Kamal Mukherjee. The brief was that the book will be all over the world, in airports, in every book stand, and it has to grab the eyes. So I had to take a tight close-up where I had to get the beauty of this mega star and I had nothing else to play with. In a longer shot, you can concentrate on the clothes, posture, or background, but all I had was a beautiful face which was emotive and powerful yet simple and elegant. Keeping that mind I had a makeup and hair team and being such a big movie star, she still allowed me to work the way I want to.

There was another incident with Ayushmann Khurrana and Sunidhi Chauhan who were doing a US tour together. Sunidhi, whom I had worked with before called me to take pictures for her publicity still of her show but both of them couldn’t come at the same time. I took separate portraits of them that were significant to the international musical show. It was a different kind of portrait where I had to keep their expressions in mind and tune the pictures together so that the result was natural and authentic.

What inspired you to take photographs?
I come from a humble background where my father was a farmer and my mother took care of the household. So there was no much exposure to the real world. But all of us, including my brother and sister, loved watching movies together. There was no socialising for us it was home and watching movies together and honestly, that was the only exposure we had to the real world. But like any creative kid, the glamour that was going on in the 70mm screen fascinated me. I had dreams in my eyes and hope in my heart and that inspired me to take pictures. So yes, I became a photographer at a theatre.

However, I have come a full circle now, and it’s the real thing that have been catching my eyes off late. For instance, a couple of years back when I was called to Bareilly to do publicity still of a film with actor Rajkummar Rao, he and I got to talking and lead both of us to do a photo shoot at the streets of Bareilly. It was fascinating that the kid who was once attracted to the glamour of the industry is now capturing something unusual, chaotic, or enigmatic, and doing so in a public space, in a situation that is unplanned.

Is there a single photograph that you are most proud of?
All my work, but one picture that will stay with me is that of Sridevi ji. I shot the cover for a magazine which was around the time she passed away, so I took her last picture and that’s heartbreaking!
I recently captured pre- wedding picture of my darling nephew, Mahesh Gagwani. Right now just compiling pictures from his wedding is giving me so much happiness indescribable. It was a joyous event and I’m glad we were capable of showcasing the wedding as a life story in the most incredible way.