These portraits shot by Max Vadukul for his latest book have our complete attention


These portraits shot by Max Vadukul for his latest book have our complete attention

The ace lensman has captured supermodels, entrepreneurs and royalty

By ELLE team  January 21st, 2020

Sheikha Intisar AlSabah of Kuwait

Kenya-born British photographer Max Vadukul has aced the art of taking an impactful image. After rising to fame through photographing fashion campaigns in the ‘80s, Max Vadukul became a popular fashion photographer in the ’90s. Max’s images are full of secrets that only the photographer and his subjects share—and the devil really is in the details, if only you pay close enough attention. Natalie Portman, Mick Jagger, Salman Rushdie, Natalie Portman, Mother Teresa—the 57-year-old has trained his lens on countless personalities. Cut to 2020, the ace photographer is part of a new book which explores the journeys of successful women—from the royals of Kuwait to global supermodels and American entrepreneurs.

Max’s new book, Circle of Love, explores the idea of strong women telling their stories of love found and lost. The book talks to women in the limelight, from royals to businesswomen about their stories of strength and love. With Max Vadukul’s photographs and philanthropist Sheikha Intisar AlSabah’s new jewellery lineon display, Circle of Love is a beautiful book that promises to move you. Here, we speak to the icon about what went on behind the scenes:

Anwar Al Ibrahim

ELLE: How did Circle of Love come about?

Max Vadukul: I was approached by HRH Sheikha Intisar AlSabah, a princess of the royal Kuwaiti family, to think about a project to help support women in war-torn countries. The princess also selected a number of magnanimous women to become the faces of the project. We had a few meetings in Europe to plan how to approach things and discuss the casting and a timeline. The project soon expanded well beyond just one city, involving London, New York, Milan, and it took two years to complete. Assouline published the book in New York. We’re all very proud of how the book came out. 

ELLE: Did you shoot all the women featured in the book, specially for this book?

MV: Yes. There are 87 women featured in the book, but only 60 were photographed. Every image is black and white. 

ELLE: Could you share a couple of anecdotes from the photoshoots? 

MV: Photographing subjects who are not accustomed to being in front of a camera is a distinct creative challenge of its own. Often, these subjects were just as nervous as they were excited to be on set, and I had to figure out how to work with that kind of anxious energy while still getting powerful images. Making my subjects feel relaxed and at ease was of the utmost importance. For example, one prominent businesswoman who is featured in the book was a bit shy at first. Eventually, I realised how fond she was of her pet, a small dog she’d brought with her that day. So, I asked her to start holding the dog while she posed for me, which gradually started to disarm her. What resulted is maybe my favourite portrait in the whole book.

Linda Taylor with her dog

ELLE: What do you consider your biggest takeaway from this experience and what do you hope readers take away from this book?

MV: I’m proud to have worked with the Intisar Foundation (the book is in support of Intisars Foundation, a UK-based charity that supports women psychologically afflicted by war). They are doing incredible and important work in the world. They are helping women in war-torn countries through psychological therapy, and they are trying to heal the wounds of trauma and fear. As to readers, I urge them to read the inspiring profiles of each of the women featured in the book, and I also recommend reading Sheikha’s introduction to the book itself, which serves as a mission statement of sorts about the Intisar Foundation’s cause.

Get yourself a copy of Circle Of Love here.