People | Haloed Moments

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Haloed Moments
Published: Volume 19, Issue 3, March, 2011

Designer JJ Valaya takes his first step into a parallel world that he has believed in with his exhibition of images that were showcased in New Delhi and Mumbai recently

In his own words:
The beginning: The first time I held a camera was when I was in college in Chandigarh. A friend of mine wanted something I had really badly and naturally, both of us were broke. He had an old SLR camera, a Pentax which he readily offered as a barter. The deal was done and I found love in a brand new medium – photography!

Muse: Aman Nath is one of the 19 subjects. The selection of nobility in the images is perhaps one of the most critical aspects of this show. Irrespective of the strata of society the subjects belong to, it was based purely on one criterion: a presence distinguished enough so that its resultant aura had absolute relevance to the final image.

‘Decoded Paradox’: Today’s Delhi, in the throes of modernisation and remodelling, revelling (sometimes quite immodestly) in the euphoria of an economically charged environment, also shows that its magic is alive on its streets. It amazes me that the same roads, once reserved for kings and queens to ride on, are now commonly used by the average man. In some way or the other, we embrace the past by simply walking on the same soil as some of the greatest people in our history. My attempt is to infuse the two separate periods of time into a single frame, creating an absorbing paradox. The resulting visuals communicate two rather different scenarios...the almost frozen form of the fictitious historical personages from a glorious past surrounded by a very vibrant and vivid present....

Why fine art photography: For me, the time had come to bring a long loved hobby out of the closet, photography fast becoming a much-accepted fine art form. My years in the wonder world of fashion and my modest understanding of costumes and textile history have added vastly to the staging part (as it involved recreating imagery from centuries back in all its purity and authenticity), whereas the very character of the present city contributed to creating the perfect yet totally spontaneous backdrop to the final image.

In the course of the shoots, there were several haloed moments that we encountered; people and props magically appearing to contribute to that missing detail, the weather changing to give us that perfect hue to the day…and several other blessings that beautifully alleviated the surprise of spontaneity.

To me, the most important thing about this, my debut show, is the fact that I have taken the first step into a parallel world I have long believed in. I did the same 22 years ago when I stepped into fashion and to relive that same intensity of emotion is gratifying enough for a start.


In its ongoing global effort to support artists worldwide, Glenfiddich proudly partnered the first-ever showcase of photographic art by the renowned couturier, JJ Valaya. This year, he has been invited to be a part of The Glenfiddich Artist in Residence (AIR) Programme, run each year at the Glenfiddich Distillery since 2002.

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