Many times, photography is a product of hard work, dedication and calculated movements. Other times, it is a moment of luck; a product when somehow the universe helps conspire a moment where the aperture happens to be at a correct value, and the shutter speed is just right. It creates a tangible, frozen moment, all tied together with that final ‘click’ of the shutter. It is these moments that give the art the suspense, appreciation and most of all, the element of surprise. For Vishesh Verma, a fashion photographer who never believed in planning and pre-deciding, this art of photography found its way to him, leaving him with the element of surprise and suspense that he enjoys and always looks for in life.
Planning always seemed like a waste of energy because Vishesh believes everything changes anyway. As opposed to his friends back at school who clearly knew where to study at College and what careers to dip their feet into, National Institute of Design (NID) for Vishesh just happened, as did the falling in love with photography. “After joining NID, I bought a camera and took pictures all the time,” says Vishesh. Through the course, the love for photography and the fluid education allowed Vishesh to invent ways in which ‘taking pictures’ could be incorporated within his assignments. That is how he created a typeface based on photographs of painted signage for typography course, and for book design, he created a book of photo caricatures and for his second design elective, he chose to create a book of photographs. He did his summer internship with Penguin Books India, where he was given the responsibility of doing a series of book covers. Not satisfied with the stock images,he decided to click the photographs instead. “I threw myself into photography,” he says. “I asked my gorgeous sister, my friends and girlfriends to pose for me. I asked friends with beautiful homes with pools and gardens to allow me to shoot there. No one ever disappointed me.” With that, he became more than just the boy with a camera around his neck. Photography had now occupied a space in his heart that could not be replaced. When his girlfriend at that time lost his camera and broke up with him all within the same week, he says “I realized losing the camera hurt more than losing her!”
“The fact that you don’t know what tomorrow brings is both the best and the biggest risk,”
What was most important about his academic stint at NID was the opportunity to cross paths in life with people who he never would have met otherwise. A sponge, Vishesh had absorbed everything people had to teach or show as he met illustrators, textile designers, filmmakers, book makers, painters, wood carvers and kite makers; people who were not defined by what they did for a living but by what they were passionate about. That for Vishesh, was infectious.
“I was fully aware, that Fashion had chosen me, and not the other way around”
Thoughts of photography as a profession were cemented when Vishesh began an apprenticeship with Farrokh Chothia in Mumbai. The city and its vibe, and Farrokh’s studio increasingly taught him how to structure a passion into business. So even when today photography as a business has changed, the basics that he learnt at Churchgate, Mumbai still hold true. Taking things as they came, in two years Vishesh found himself shooting covers for fashion magazines. He says, “I was fully aware, that Fashion had chosen me, and not the other way around.”
For Vishesh, every day is still unplanned and new.“The fact that you don’t know what tomorrow brings is both the best and the biggest risk,” says Vishesh. He loves how unpredictable and flexible it all can be. The fact that creative visual mediums overlap each other is something that excites him—one day you could be painting a background, while the next day you could be designing a set and further still, composing a soundtrack.He meets new people and sees the world very often. His subject range from politicians, billionaires, artists, models, actors all of whom have their own stories. While he takes pictures of many people, there is one subject whose pictures he takes for just himself—his daughter, Aida. He approaches his family life just like anything else, without a grand plan. “Children teach you so much about life and yourself”, Vishesh says. “In little ways they mirror you and you gain a deeper understanding about yourself.”
Throughout all his work, no two photographs seem to look the same. There is unpredictability and sense of surprise in the people he shoots with, the tones that he brings out, and the mood he creates. But if you look closely, there is a stability, a common thread that holds all of Vishesh’s work together: an aesthetic suave, a quirk and an almost fantastical edge, where it is difficult to say where reality ends and fiction begins. And between what is controllable and what isn’t, between the stability and unpredictability is where his art lies, an honest reflection of his own persona.