Cause meets composition in G. Venket Ram’s calendar for 2013, as the ace photographer shifts his focus to the environment and the art of fashion

What is it that transforms a staid snapshot into a talking picture? Well, it’s the photographer’s voice and vision, G. Venket Ram seems to say, going by the pages of his calendar for 2013.

“When I went around Chennai and its vicinity scouting for locations to shoot pictures, I realised there were hardly any picturesque spots left. So I put together random shots of Nature in dull tones of green, yellow and brown and offset them with brilliant butterflies and iridescent birds,” says Venket, showing the pictures on his massive iMac.

There’s a twin focus to the calendar project. While the backdrops make you contemplate our fast-depleting flora, the fauna portrayed is a tribute to the art of fashion. Coquettish butterflies in a burst of hues, birds with contours like an art nouveau sculpture, and ladybirds and moths with wing patterns that are a fabulous study in composition, fascinated the photographer. “They are Nature’s visually grabbing works of art. I explored locations in Coorg too. But they didn’t work. So I decided to recreate the jungle in my studio in Chetpet with my Nature shots blown-up in vinyl as the backdrop. For the butterflies and birds, I approached Fibin V. Raj of the Pearl Academy of Fashion to create breathtaking silhouettes with a range of fabric, textures, needlework and paint. I didn’t want film stars to overwhelm the pictures. Besides, I needed someone with the fluidity and grace of butterflies and birds. So I zeroed in on Rukmini Vijayakumar, dancer, model, actor and yoga exponent,” says the photographer, who distils his two-decade-old experience into 12 meticulously planned shots.

Eye for detail

For two months, Venket and his team pored over references and came up with 12 distinct looks. Some of the ‘creature outfits’ involved reams of fabric. Fibin’s keen eye for detail shows in the way he has worked with colour, textures and layers to replicate the ornate creatures with quirky patterns on their bodies and art work-like wings. It’s the point where a designer turns into a dramatist! Some of the garments balloon out. Others flow metres long, so the wasp-waisted model is made to stand on a tall stool. It’s a visual narrative that echoes the creative whimsies of the iconic Alexander McQueen. Every look involved different hairstyles too. Rachel B. Singh created honeycomb and installation-like hairdos that had to be rigged on top with threads, besides free-flowing, wildly romantic styles.

“Light is a transformative tool in photography. We had to use dawn and dusk lighting with a mist effect to create a slice of the jungle. Though they are static, there is a sense of movement about the shots. Rukmini is rubber-like in her elasticity. She was able to pull off amazing poses. From costumes, hair and make-up to background and lighting, we planned every composition so that it surpassed the ordinary. The whole exercise was passion-driven. There's no commercial angle to it!” smiles Venket with a sense of accomplishment.

The calendar is being launched by veteran director Priyadarshan at a function in the city today.

You can checkout the video of Venket Ram’s calendar 2013 on YouTube.