Markus Klinko and Indrani give us a preview of their photography-based
This coming winter, two of photography's biggest talents will be spending as much time in front of the camera as they do behind it. Markus Klinko and Indrani - the most famous twosome in fashion and celebrity photography - will give television viewers an inside look at their sometimes tempestuous and highly prolific working relationship in a new Bravo network reality series, tentatively titled Double Exposure.
Consider these photos of Naomi Campbell a sneak peek. Production hasn't wrapped yet, but the word is that an episode might be devoted to their session with Campbell. "We had this great studio booked in London, but we decided to do the entire shoot in the tiny parking lot behind it," says Indrani, who functions both as creative director and postproduction specialist. "I wanted a look that was a little gritty and raw, and I found some amazing surfaces there, like gates with a wonderful sheen and a wooden fence we were able to light from behind to make the cracks glow."
Though the location gave the duo the atmosphere they were looking for, it presented particular challenges - mainly drivers hoping to use the parking lot for its intended purpose. "There were a lot of comical incidents with people trying to park," Klinko recalls. "And we were like, 'Don't you realize this is Naomi Campbell and that we're not going to move her just because you want to park your car?'"
The photographers used costumes and staging to give Campbell the look of a superhero. The idea was to play up her personal strength. "She's a strong woman," says Indrani. "People criticize her because she has expressed that strength in certain ways in the past." Indrani is referring to Campbell's habitual appearances in gossip columns. "You read all this stuff about her and none of it happened," says Klinko. "Whatever people say about her, she didn't come to our shoot as a celebrity; she came to it as a model. And she modeled and was very cooperative." Indrani is quick to point out, however, that Campbell had some "strong opinions" about her wardrobe. "I must have missed that," Klinko admits.
The Bravo show isn't the only big news from Klinko and Indrani. In late August 2009, Klinko, for Markus Klinko Photography Inc., and Indrani, for Double Exposure Studios LLC, filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection from All Points Capital Corporation. (See the next page for details.)
These latest events in their shared story - the reality show and the financial troubles - tell us something about Klinko and Indrani, but a holistic look at their career paints a fuller picture.
Klinko and Indrani are living proof of the mutability of talent. As unfair as it might seem, people who do one thing very well often do another with equal aplomb. Indeed, both of them started professional life at the top of their respective fields before making their mark in the world of photography.
Rewind to the early 1990s, when Swiss-born Klinko was a worldrenowned concert harpist based in New York City. Despite a recording contract that most classical musicians would die for, Klinko decided in 1994 to give up the harp and take up photography - something he loved but knew little about. Ignoring predictions that he would regret the decision, Klinko sold all his harps and used the money to buy photography equipment. Two weeks later, he got a job taking test shots for a modeling agency. That's when he met Indrani.
Indrani's one-word moniker points to her success as a working model. A devoted amateur photographer in her own right, Indrani would often strike up shoptalk with the people photographing her. That's how she and Klinko made a connection that has endured for 15 years. "Indrani showed up," Klinko likes to say, "and she never left."
The two began a relationship, both romantic and professional, and they discovered their alloyed style while shooting editorial assignments for smaller, indie fashion magazines. They soon signed on with Randal Walker Management in Paris and inked a commercial contract with a small L'Oréal brand to shoot a cosmetics ad campaign.
Their career gained serious momentum in 2000 when the photographers created an editorial portfolio for the The London Sunday Times. Shortly after that, they were approached by supermodel Iman, who wanted them to shoot a book cover, and her husband, David Bowie, who wanted cover art for his album Heathen. Today, Klinko and Indrani call Iman and Bowie their creative godmother and godfather.
"What was really exciting was that each of them had been following our work for awhile," says Indrani. "And they came to us and said, 'We love what you're doing, but we want you to do something completely different.' We learned from those early mentors to push ourselves to do things we hadn't done or seen before," says Indrani.
In addition to good mentoring, Klinko and Indrani's brilliant career owes much to their well-tuned partnership, which in recent years is purely professional. Klinko handles the camera while Indrani acts as the art director for all their shoots, though they collaborate in every aspect of the process. Indrani is also in charge of postproduction, an important part of their work. Early years saw the duo (now handled by Opus Reps) pushing digital capabilities to the limit, often putting their subjects in fantastical, computer-generated settings. "We're always fascinated with the line between fantasy and reality," Indrani explains, "and how our subjects themselves are able to walk it. Celebrities exist in fantasy worlds for most people, and we find that world very interesting."
Though some photographers have made their mark humanizing larger-than-life personalities, Klinko and Indrani bolster the glamour, mystery and awe inspired by celebrity culture. "We're not trying to bring things down to earth," says Klinko. "I think we're looking for something in between fantasy and reality."