You always see celebrities in a cliché-perfect photography. But a Delhi-based photographer, AJ Raina, has changed the game. He believes in highlighting the finer details that will ultimately tell a story, reports Huffington Post.
The photographer, who has never professionally studied photography (he picked up photography in 2007 and started shooting professionally in 2010), claims that he would like to fuse his surrealist ideals while shooting with Indian celebrities to showcase them in a different light, quite unlike what they’re used to doing.
To create his pictures, AJ sketches his scenes before he actually shoots, sometimes years in advance. He wants to create sets that cater to his surreal sense of art, instead of having to rely on post-work tools. Here are some of his photographs of celebrities and the reasons why he created them:
I love and admire Kalki so much, she’s a thinker, writer, poet, actor… so much intensity… I think this image for me was her silencing the doubters, in her own quiet way.
When shooting a star, I don’t believe in always highlighting his face — after all he’s already known. I could relate to Virat, because I played cricket in college, and I understand where he’s come from and how much he’s achieved. Beyond his talent is the ability to deliver in crunch situations, and that really comes from how strong you are mentally. He is reputed for coming in and turning an ugly game on its head — and I wanted to turn him on his (it was a quiet joke for me). So I shot it in a way where I just wanted to let him float there and relax.
Robert is one of those people, who has been coloured in a certain way. I had the challenge of shooting this man (who people felt very strongly about) in a different light. I was initially briefed to show him in a powerful light, surrounded by his Porsche, his watches and his super bike. But to thrust him as a privileged person down people’s throats seemed a little dangerous. I wanted to show his human side. Robert loves fitness, so we exploited that. We wanted something strong without the suits. We had a nice sky in the back. I remember people being really surprised.
Randeep had brought his dog, Candy, along for the shoot, and their story moved me — she’s a very shy, skittish dog. She’s a rescue but she still hadn’t lost her fear. She only feels safe with him. I am an animal lover, and I have rescues of my own, and was inspired to shoot her with him. She would keep moving her head and he would adapt accordingly. It was quite funny.
The music that rock bands throw out — their voice, the creativity that goes into their songs, whatever they say or do is picked up so quickly. They have such a great influence on the public. And I love playing with smoke. So this came together beautifully because the smoke coming from his mouth is almost like his ‘illusionary artistic voice’ coming forth and hypnotising those around him, almost like a drug.
Sushil Kumar is an absolute gem of a person — very grounded and extremely humble. He was very uncomfortable in the shoot — terrified that he was being shot with half-naked women in the vicinity. The women in swimsuits are what ordinarily grab people’s attention — yet no one in the photograph is looking at them, because all eyes are on the celebrity.
It would have been typical to shoot Vikas Khanna with pots and pans — that’s what people have already seen him as. So we had a ten-minute chat, where I told him I’d like to celebrate the food that has rendered him larger than life. So we exaggerated the food — showing the importance its played in his life. He was absolutely delighted!
Saif Ali Khan
This was shot on a huge set that was built on location at a stud farm. Saif is extremely quick — probably the quickest I know. You have to keep up with him: I had a massive lighting crew on set, who ran about keeping different shots ready. This shot where he’s fixing the broken fence on the ranch took just three or four minutes.
Chitrangda is so edgy and unique -I wanted a gentler picture of hers. So while she was clad in her feminine, Sleeping Beauty-esque gown, we created sparks at the back (a dicey technique). I also love the water element by her feet — the fact that she’s not standing on a clean surface, but a rough one.