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The Questionnaire : Aparna Jayakumar by Carole Schmitz


Freelance photographer born in Bombay, Aparna Jayakumar also studied photography, cinema and psychology there before going to perfect her knowledge and also to follow courses of art history at the Aegean Center for the Fine Arts in Italy and in Greece.

His view of the world challenges some and never leaves one indifferent. His images flirt with artistic practice and editorial narrative, but always tell human stories. Her work is internationally recognized and published in Monocle, Christie’s Magazine, Harper’s Bazaar, Travel+Leisure, BBC TopGear and many other publications.

Since the 2000s, she has been a renowned set photographer on Bollywood film sets and also creates visual campaigns for India’s most successful cultural exports.

She has collaborated with such diverse and prestigious brands as Hermes, GEOX, Qatar Airways, Vodafone, Ford, Cadbury’s and has worked on advertising campaigns with directors such as Mira Nair, Sooni Taraporevala and Vishal Bhardwaj.

Aparna Jayakumar also taught photography to media students at Sophia College, Mumbai from 2009 to 2013. She has been a trainer at the Anjali photo workshops for children at the Cambodian NGO Anjali House. And, she founded the Bombay Photo Club, organizing photography events in the city with fellow photographers from around the world.

Currently, she spends a lot of time in Doha where she participates in the Tasweer Festival, exhibiting on the theme “Doha Fashion. Friday” in collaboration with Khalid Albaih.


Instagram : @aparna_jay


Your first photographic trigger?
Aparna Jayakumar : My earliest memory as a teen was using a point-and-shoot camera to photograph my mother. She was one of those timeless beauties that belonged on the silver screen.

The man or woman of image who inspires you?
Aparna Jayakumar : There are so many. I love the work of August Sander, André Kertész, Raghubir Singh, Garry Winogrand, Helmut Newton, Sooni Taraporevala (my mentor), Gueorgui Pinkhassov, Azadeh Akhlagi, Olivia Arthur and more.

The image you would have liked to make?
Aparna Jayakumar : ‘Madrid’ by Henri Cartier-Bresson. The timing, the symmetry, the magic!

© Henri Cartier-Bresson – Courtesy Fondation Henri Cartier-Bresson

The one that moved you the most?
Aparna Jayakumar : This might come as a surprise but it’s the photograph of the fork by André Kertész. I was struck by the beauty in its simplicity. When I look at it, it transports me to a beautiful Parisian summer, with a gentle breeze and jazz playing in the background. It made me realise the true art that photography was.

© André Kertész

And the one that made you angry?
Aparna Jayakumar : Ukraine’s First Lady Olena Zelenska in a fashion photoshoot for Vogue set against the ongoing war, called ‘A Portrait of Bravery’.

© Annie Leibovitz – Courtesy Condé Nast

A key image in your personal pantheon?
Aparna Jayakumar : The photograph of the solo Padmini taxi navigating the Bombay monsoon.


A photographic memory from your childhood?
Aparna Jayakumar : There’s a photograph of me as a toddler seated on a stuffed tiger. My mother is holding me, telling me to be brave.

With no budget limit, what would be the work you would dream of acquiring?
Aparna Jayakumar : The Floor Scrapers by Gustave Caillebotte. That Impressionist painting always speaks to me, for its ability to see beauty in the seemingly mundane. To me, Caillebotte was ahead of his time, reversing the male gaze and elevating the working class, while his contemporaries were absorbed in capturing the Parisian flaneur lifestyle.

According to you, what is the necessary quality to be a good photographer?
Aparna Jayakumar : Sensitivity. Generosity.

The secret of the perfect image, if it exists?
Aparna Jayakumar : Capturing the soul of the era, the politics of the time.

The person you would like to photograph?
Aparna Jayakumar : Timothée Chalamet, I love his androgynous beauty.

An indispensable photo book?
Aparna Jayakumar : River of Color by Raghubir Singh.

The camera of your childhood?
Aparna Jayakumar : My mother bought me my first real camera when I was a teen. It was a full metal body Nikon FM-10.

The one you use today?
Aparna Jayakumar : Now I use a Canon mirrorless camera. I like that it can be quiet and unobtrusive.

Your favorite drug?
Aparna Jayakumar : A hot, crisp masala dosa and South Indian filter coffee.

The best way to disconnect for you?
Aparna Jayakumar : Retail therapy.

What is your relationship with the image?
Aparna Jayakumar : Essential and constantly evolving.

Your greatest quality?
Aparna Jayakumar : My resilience.

Your latest folly?
Aparna Jayakumar : Being interested in everything so it affects my focus.

An image to illustrate a new banknote?
Aparna Jayakumar : Yoga asanas. The higher the denomination, the more complicated the asana.

The job you would not have liked to do?
Aparna Jayakumar : Lawyer.

Your greatest professional extravagance?
Aparna Jayakumar : Hiring many assistants.

The city, the country or the culture you dream of discovering?
Aparna Jayakumar : Mexico.

The place you never get tired of?
Aparna Jayakumar : London!

Your biggest regret?
Aparna Jayakumar : The images I have missed making.

In terms of social networks, are you more into Instagram, Facebook, Tik Tok or Snapchat and why?
Aparna Jayakumar : Instagram all the way, because the image is most important.

Color or B&W?
Aparna Jayakumar : This is a hard one as I love the stark beauty of B&W. But it’s color for me. Coming from India, it has to be color!

Daylight or artificial light?
Aparna Jayakumar : Always daylight. Artificial light if it is to photograph the night.

Which city do you think is the most photogenic?
Aparna Jayakumar : Cairo

If God existed would you ask him to pose for you, or would you opt for a selfie with him?
Aparna Jayakumar : If God existed, I would ask Her to pose for me.

If I could organize your ideal dinner party, who would be at the table?
Aparna Jayakumar : Che Guevara, Werner Herzog, Ai Weiwei, Ricky Gervais, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, Anna Wintour, Amal Clooney, Gael Garcia Bernal, Tabu and more disruptors!

The image that represents for you the current state of the world?
Aparna Jayakumar : Maurizio Cattelan’s banana duct-taped to the wall. I laughed so much.

What is missing in today’s world?
Aparna Jayakumar : Selflessness

If you had to start all over again?
Aparna Jayakumar : I would tell myself to be patient and kind to myself; everything good takes time.

A last word?
Aparna Jayakumar : Right here, right now

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