Thursday 16 February 2012


'Lolita' by Bikramjit Bose stopped me in my tracks. 

Haunting, intriguing, unassumingly beautiful and, coincidentally, reflecting fashion's current penchant for 'print on print'! 

Bikramjit and I worked together on a fashion shoot in Mumbai a few months ago but it's his portraiture that I find most arresting. 

Poplin: We began in India and even if indirectly, it inspires a lot of what we do. What do you find most inspiring about working in India? 
Bikramjit.Bose: More than India, its Kolkata and Mumbai that inspire me the most. Kolkata is where I grew up and Mumbai is the city I chose to work in. I think its a combination of the inherent nature of these two cities and its people that I thrive on- the soporific mixed with the manic. 

P: You specialise in both fashion photography and portraiture. I'm really interested in what connections you find between the two?
B.B: For me, portraiture comes first and in someway will always remain a first as its closer or more in touch with reality I suppose. Fashion photography and portraiture can be very different and worlds apart but I always try to approach a fashion shoot from a portrait photographer's point of view and not the other way around. So a fashion image becomes not just about the clothes but a little bit about the model as well. Instead of using the model as a glorified clothes hanger if you manage to tap into the model's character and idiosyncrasies, it just brings a little more to the picture. 

P: Your favourite location for a shoot? 
BB: A daylight studio would be great but there aren't any in Mumbai (not to my knowledge) but having said that I don't really have a favourite location. A controlled indoor environment can be just as exciting as the crowded streets.  

P: Who would you most like to photograph? 
BB: I don't have a wish list of people I'd love to photograph- I'm intrigued by faces that have a story to tell, famous or otherwise, faces that draw me in and make me wonder. 

P:  A fashion designer you'd particularly like to work with? 
BB: Yohji Yamamoto. Haha I know it's a bit of a stretch but I love the way most of his campaigns are shot - a bit of an old-world throwback. And they're mostly in black and white, not just the pictures but the clothes as well. That's a palette I relate to. 

P: What makes a woman beautiful to you? Is that even a "value" you aspire to in your work? 
BB: For me, a woman with personality and a strong sense of exactly who she is, is beautiful. Like I mentioned, whether it’s a model, a celebrity or a regular person…what I’m drawn to most is who they are as people, their character and only if you know and are completely at ease with who you are, can you bring that to the table. And it is absolutely a value I aspire to in my work – to know who I am and striving to stay true to that.  

P:  I was in New York recently and visited the Frick Collection. I was really struck by how directly some of the portraits in the collection capture a personality. Is there an artist (painter or sculptor rather than photographer) whose work you admire for that sort of ability? 
BB: When you speak of portraits capturing a personality, flatteringly or otherwise, the only person that comes to mind is Richard Avedon. I think his work transcended the realm of photography because it is almost as if he could, at will, much like a sculptor, masterfully direct and mould his subjects into a form and expression of his choice 

P: Poplin is about the luxury of retreating and relaxing. What do you do to switch off and unwind? 
BB: Music and movies. I’m a complete cinephile. Movies and music are as relaxing as they are inspiring. 

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