After a strong recommendation, I got my hands on Encoded Paradox by JJ Valaya. First notes, the book is big! For some reason I feel Indian photographers are attracted towards the big. Specially the more classical ones. And because its big, its heavy.
To be frank I don’t really like the make of the book. The page quality is great but the images don’t show well because of the high contrasty prints. The idea behind the series is great again but the series is too small to form a book as huge as this. So the end pages are filled with random images from behind the scenes in terrible quality and taste.
What makes this book is JJ’s styling and his clothes. They are just beautiful and the way he positions his characters leaves you with very lingering emotions. His work exhumes charm and timelessness. Also his idea of vintage merging with the new works beautifully. The atmosphere in the images accepts the old like it accepts the new, as its own.
Its rare to find a good photo book by a Indian artist. You don’t come across one often and when you do, you realise that flawed in one way or another. Its the same case with this book. The ideas are great and so is the work but the post production is terrible. I don’t know if its a style but I thought when it came to images which imitated images of Royal India, they would also work on quality and tonal range of the time. But images by JJ seem too high contrast without any tones. Hence they don’t translate well in prints.
Do you want this book in your collection. I think its a beautiful study of Vintage style and royalty. The styling in this book is immaculate and simple enough to be called profound. Its a great book but its very expensive (Rs. 3000 I think) and there is an alternative by Raghu Rai called Indian Portraits which too studies Indian Royalty. But if you’re a fan of the designer and would like to see a fusion of contemporary with the vintage and some great styling, this is the book for you.