Meet the Artisan - Vickram Singh Bawa

When you think of famous fashion photographers, a few names come to mind: Prabuddha Dasgupta, Gautam Rajadhyaksha, Mario Testino and perhaps Guy Bourdin. There is another name, however, that is just as iconic: Vickram Singh Bawa. You could say that Bawa’s work ushered in a new aesthetic paradigm for the pages of glossy magazines. Recipient of Prix de la Photographie Paris, Masters Cup, The Spider Awards, Asian Photography Most Influential Photographer, and The International Color Awards amongst others, Bawa has mastered the art of what it takes to create a lasting image!

How did you get into the world of fashion photography?
I have been exposed to fashion from childhood, as my mother was a designer and had a company working on garments from various international brands. Both my mother and father were expert photographers in their youth. So somewhere along the way, I picked it up and it came naturally to me.

How do you keep your photography fresh?
There is an inherent need of my soul, my personality to keep going, and pushing myself to learn.  I like to enhance myself in all spheres: spiritual, emotional, and physical, which percolates into my love for photography. It also in a lot of ways helps me express my feelings in print.

How do you see yourself – a photographer or a visual artist?
Honestly, I prefer being an artist on an exploration. I have stopped calling myself a photographer a long time back. In fact, I would be one of the few ‘photographers’ to be shown with artists of the stature of Bruta, Paresh Maity, and Brinda Miller among others.

How are ideas developed for your commercial fashion essays?
My commercial essays would always start with understanding my clients, their expression towards their work, their ethos, their sense of style, and their needs. How I put my style or my knowledge to create a work that they can then call their own is of utmost importance to me.

Talk us through your compositional process – where do you start?
Surprisingly, it is ingrained in me. When I started out it took me three years of shooting the same ruined house and desolate tree every single day, till I finally achieved a presentable image. Now, every composition is broken down in my mind to its minutest details, I then put it on paper, and finally, create the image.

Some say fashion photography lacks originality and freedom nowadays. What is your stance on the subject?
Every season has its difficulties and every artist has a different style. We must see the beauty within. Because of social media, everyone’s an expert photographer or a critic. Having said that, all photography is a representative and a record of the culture of the present time in history. So, what we are seeing is a culture of excess, and time will filter out the best orators of the history of fashion in the current. Personally, I am excited, as always to see change and challenges. That drives us all, to better ourselves.

Do you remember your very first camera?
Yes. My mother bought me a Yashica automatic, 35mm camera when I was a year old. I bought myself a Yashica FX3-Super 2000 SLR when I was a 15-years old.

Colour or black and white?
Hmm… both. They’re both beautiful when portraying different emotions at different times in my life.

What makes a great fashion photographer?
An understanding of the emotions that can be created and captured by the ebb and flow of a human body draped in fabric and the feeling of being alive with every frame captured.

How would you describe your work to someone who has never seen it?
Would be difficult. A work in progress, I would say.

You have already accomplished a lot – do you still have dreams and goals?
I feel I have accomplished maybe 5% of my potential. If I had accomplished a lot, I would be done forever with this beauty called life.