Ace photographers pick Gautam Rajadhyaksha's best pictures
One of the country's most famous photographers of Bollywood and fashion, Gautam Rajadhyaksha, passed away today in Mumbai following a heart attack at the age of 62.
Rajadhyaksha has shot some of the most glamorous photographs of actors, actresses and celebrities. His book Faces is a compilation of his best works.
Ace photographers Jayesh Seth and Dabboo Ratnani speak to Patcy N and remember his work and style.
Gautam Rajadhyaksha has photographed all our celebrities but the most remarkable picture that he clicked was of Asha Bhosle; he has captured her like no one else has.
I also like his photographs of Kajol, the Bachchans and, of course, Rekha. Some of his pictures are unbelievable.
Gautam Rajadhyaksha developed his own style in the 1980s and his pictures in those days looked like they were Photo-shopped, but, of course, they were not because there was no Photoshop in those days here. His finishing was very classic. He would use lots of window lighting.
His pictures reflected his personality. He was a very innocent and creative soul, and you could see lots of depth in his pictures.
Photographs: Gautam Rajadhyaksha
'People called us the four aces'
I met him a couple of times but I never had the chance to work with him. We were of the same era and worked around the same time. People called us the four aces-- Gautam, Jayesh, Rakesh (Shrestha) and Jagdish (Malli).
We were friends but we didn't get much chance to talk. Just a month ago Gautam and I spoke on Facebook and recalled how people called us the four aces.
I praised him for his books and his achievements in life so he complimented me by saying 'I love the way you are still going on'. Compliments from a person like him are inspiring, it gives you extra boost.
We all had different and unique styles and there was healthy competition, never grudges. We complimented each other on our work, we saw each other's pictures and studied them properly and appreciated them. Ours was a learning process; it was not competition, it was study, it was beautiful.
Image: Asha Bhosle
'Gautam was best at portraits'
He praised my work to Sangeeta Bijlani and Dimple. The last time I met Rekha she told me Gautam was telling her about me 'In the 5:30 evening light no photographer can produce the results that Jayesh does'.
Gautam was best at portraits -- he was a master at it. You never saw the expression that he caught on any other portrait of the same actor. He had mastery over lighting, composition and expression. He knew the right moment to click, and if he did not get the right expression, he would wait, make his subject comfortable, speak to them and if they were still not comfortable, he would shoot the next day. He never forced his pictures.
He came out with the concept of soft diffusion -- it was a new filter to compliment the lighting, and today it is a genre on its own. Today's generation of photographers, when they see a picture shot with a soft light, they say it is Gautam Rajadhyaksha-style. He gave today's generation a new guideline.
'Though he knew I was a new kid just starting out, he was very friendly and welcoming'
When I started as an assistant photographer to other photographers in 1990, I admired Gautam's work. He was the biggest name in the business. I looked at the work of other photographers, I checked magazines and I would always see his name everywhere.
I have been influenced by his work. In 1994, when I started out on my own as a photographer, I was introduced to him by (actress) Pooja Bhatt, (fashion designer) Anna Singh and (make-up man) Mickey Contractor. Though he knew I was a new kid just starting out, he was very friendly and welcoming.
Image: Madhuri Dixit
'He has been an important milestone in the journey of Indian photography and Indian cinema'
In some of his work you can just look at the picture and say this is Gautam's work. He has a signature style -- a portrait done with soft lighting making the actor look his or her best.
If you see a picture of Kajol, Tabu or Madhuri Dixit taken by him, you will remember those pictures. His book Faces has beautiful pictures. He has been an important milestone in the journey of Indian photography and Indian cinema.
I don't take his picture as a reference but I used to look at his work. I clearly remember a nice cover picture of Anu Agarwal that he had shot in the early 1990s. He was best known for his close-ups and portraits. He shot women really well.
Image: Amitabh Bachchan
'He was in the process of writing film scripts'
I had not met him recently, but about four days ago I met Mickey Contractor at a shoot and I asked him how Gautam is doing, and Mickey mentioned that it was Gautam's birthday on September 16, and he was going to Pune to spend the day with him.
His loss is a huge loss to the industry. Any celebrity or actor you speak to has lots of respect for him. In fact, he was in the process of writing film scripts. He will always be remembered fondly.
Image: Abhishek and Jaya Bachchan