Photography is Lucky Malhotra’s first love, and he is the happiest when the word ‘fashion’ is attached before the term photography. It’s been a long, hard, but worthwhile journey for this lifestyle photographer—right from growing up in Hyderabad, stealing (he still thinks he borrowed it) his father’s camera when he was away, having his friends as test subjects, to finally making it in the lifestyle photography circuit.
From the day he knew that photography (fashion in particular) was his new-found passion, he surrounded himself with high fashion magazines like Vogue, Elle and much more. But little did he know that one day his pictures would be featured on these platforms. His name might be Lucky, but if you spent an hour with him, you would know that he is 99 per cent hard work and one per cent luck(y)!
We catch up with Malhotra, who tells us about his new projects Enunciate and Koskii Super Bride, why he chose this profession, and why he is picky about wedding photography, and more.
How and why did you get into photography?
I was always inclined to this art as my father used to shoot and we had different cameras at home though they were always locked (laughs). I used to read magazines like Filmfare, Elle and many others. Subconsciously, I was grasping the style, the flair for fashion. I used to rip the pages and file them. But, I never thought my pictures will be on it someday (smiles).
I was good in studies but no one knew that I was inclined to art and actually I myself never realised it then. I used to shoot few friends of mine who used to make me a scapegoat for their pictures as I did not charge them (laughs). But I guess that was the start and this is where I am now. Though this is nowhere close to what I dreamt, I am thankful to God that I am pursuing what I love the most.
You are currently working on a high fashion shoot called Enunciate, and a campaign called Koskii Super Bride. Could you tell us a little bit about what they are and how did you become a part of this project?
Ah! Enunciate is inspired by gold, goddess, R&B, covert and sensuality. The concept is styled by Anamika Chanda, Suzanne Roque is the model and Romi Thockchom Nilakumaroma is the makeup and hair artist. We have shot a trippy fashion video too which will be out in some time. It is one of my most favourite projects and I am kicked about it. I am also looking forward to working with fashion houses, brands and fashion campaigns too.
On the other hand, the Koskii Super Brides is a campaign, especially for brides-to-be. The idea is to bring out the individuality of each bride which is also the brand ideology of Koskii. I am shooting the campaign and judging the contest too, so it’s a sweet deal.
I knew Umar Akhter and Sameen Eajaz (owners of Koskii) through a common friend of ours who also happens to be his cousin. Umar wanted to create something memorable and that’s how ideas were brainstormed and we had creative director Aliyeh Rizvi on board. Rizvi comes with immense experience and amazing inputs and things started falling into place and I agreed to do the shoot and that’s how we ended up shooting the film and I became a part of the campaign.
We identified Arpana Roy (a bride-to-be) who had picked the outfit from Koskii. The team spoke to her and asked her if she was keen to be the first bride for the campaign. In the beginning, Arpana was nervous but she ultimately agreed as we convinced her to take up this opportunity and made her feel comfortable.
Initially, the idea was to do a campaign photo shoot and a makeover video, but I always wanted to do a mood film, as I felt it was much-needed. Because, through this, we are touching various personas of a bride, which usually take a backseat when they are about to get married.
The mood film is out and has been well appreciated, we are looking out for real brides-to-be to be a part of this contest where they will be getting style/makeup makeover and a celebrity kind of photo shoot and we will try to bring out their personality through that campaign.
Your first ever professional camera?
It was a Yashica SLR with a 200mm and a 50mm lens which was an analogue camera that had so much fungus that I hardly could see but that’s where your focusing skills get honed.
We found out that you are really picky about the projects you do, especially wedding photography. Any reason why?
Oh yes, I am glad that you brought this up as I reject a lot of wedding projects because the people who reach out are just carried away by what they see on the internet. They want things to be done in a jiffy and start comparing someone else work. They don’t understand that good things take time and an artist needs his/her space to create something. I don’t like to copy someone’s work. Getting inspired is a different thing, but I can’t copy the shot which they expect sometimes. Some want the best work, but they don’t give their best.
Bottom line is, I refrain working with such clients with whom I can’t connect. At any point, I feel that I am getting into a project where there is too much interference, I just excuse myself from it. And it does not matter even if they want to pay my price. I would never work with them because I won’t be happy in the end.
I have made such mistakes in the past and I don’t want to repeat them so I filter a lot of requests. I want to give personal attention to any work I take and the client should appreciate that and not ignore the fact that I am giving it that much importance. This is the reason I take less wedding projects.
If you were not a photographer, what would have been your career alternative? Why?
I was keen to join the Indian Air Force or the Army, but I was weak in mathematics (laughs).
I could have been a Disc Jockey too. All my life I have associated closely with music and I love music and I guess you can see the importance I give to music in my videos. Sometimes, I feel I should have been a DJ, because as you are done with a project in few hours, and then you move on to the next!
The three most important things in your life?
Family, the right attitude, and of course, my profession.
An emotional moment that is close to your heart?
My younger daughter Myra was away with my mother-in-law for a few months (she was two years old) as our help left and it was difficult to take care of her as we both are working. It was around Diwali when I received a WhatsApp message with a picture of my mother in law holding Myra. In that picture, Myra was holding a sparkler with a smile on her face. I saw that picture and broke down. I started missing her more and felt bad that she is not here with us, but relieved that she is at least happy there. The picture was dark, not well-lit, but quite a strong one. That day I realised one thing, that emotions are far more powerful than the quality of a picture. A high-resolution picture with no connect will just be a high-resolution image, but if a picture has that emotional connect, it lingers on your mind. That picture gave me a better direction and for me, it’s all about the connection.
I can never stand fake people and those who always are negative by nature. I just want to keep away from such folks. Sometimes people think you are not a big name just because you are grounded and don’t throw attitude. I wish they grow up!
If you were given the chance to live somebody else’s life for a day who would it be and why?
You might burst out laughing, but I want to live a maid’s life for a day. Make them the boss for a day to make them feel that in actual terms they are the boss, though they work for us, they are the ones who rule us (laughs).
On a serious note, I want to live like someone who does not bother about what society thinks.
What does success mean to you?
For me success is not money, It is the respect and the recognition which I have and it was not easy to get where I am without publicity but somehow I made it without any of them. But as times change, I have adapted myself to social media and I am more active than how I used to be on Facebook and Instagram. It feels great when people talk good about your work, either in front of you or behind you. Having said that money is important too in this real world, as you have to run the family, but frankly, I wish it was just art.
Follow his work on Facebook here.
Watch the video of Koskii Super Bride below.
Register of the Koskii Super Bride contest here.