With a subject list that includes top entertainers like Beyonce, Kate Winslet, Will Smith and David Bowie, photographers Markus Klinko and Indrani are breaking down one of the walls behind celebrity/high-fashion photography and the audience that views it by letting cameras shoot the ins and outs of their business on the new Bravo reality series "Double Exposure." While that means audiences will get to see them work with personalities like Eve, Lindsay Lohan, Lady Gaga, Naomi Campbell and Dita Von Teese, the cameras don't stop rolling when the often-combative photographers take to raising their own drama and butting heads with each other in order to get the best shot. Once involved romantically, the duo are no longer sleeping in the same bed but can be seen arguing over who gets the larger hotel room and whether a superstar should kneel during a photo shoot or not.
Our Jim Halterman rang up the two photographers to get their take on making this show work, why their combative nature is a good thing for their professional union and who their dream subjects would be to shoot.
Jim Halterman: How did the show come about and land on Bravo?
Markus Klinko: Over time people, clients, celebrities have picked up on the energy between Indrani and myself and it's sometimes quite humorous. We're like a walking reality show. At one point, we were asked to be on 'America's Next Top Model' as the main photographers but we didn't want to do that because it was too early in our career.
Indrani: And that format was very restrictive and we're very focused on creative exploration, which we continue to do. About three years ago, we decided we really would like to bring the audience behind the scene and make that a part of our art. For us, it's very post-modern. The big part of our art is the perspective of Markus, me, GK [Reid], our stylist, the client...all their perspectives are included in our images. We really work to create a unified vision out of all these different points of view. Bringing the audience full-circle to be a part of that process seemed, to us, to be the ultimate art form. I wrote a treatment for the show and we went to many production companies until we found the right fit. Bravo is a great place to be because they are big supporters of the arts.
JH: Were there surprises once you started having cameras following you around or was the experience what you expected?
MK: We've had behind-the-scenes filming happening quite a lot and it's quite an adrenaline-inducing process.
Indrani: Markus and I also grew up in front of the cameras. I was a model from the age of 14 and Markus was a classical harpist from the age of 3 so we've both been in front of audiences or cameras for most of our lives. We really engage our subjects in a very dynamic kind of way so having the cameras following us heightened the excitement of everyone involved and heightened the stakes as well since people can see if we screw up. But we've also produced some of our greatest work within this project so it's been very exciting.
JH: How long have you been together as a team?
MK: 16 years this fall. It's hard to believe but for seven or eight years we were a couple and working together and the last 7 years we're best friends and like family and creative partners. It's been a wonderful journey.
JH: You talk in the show about how opposite you are from each other. Is that the key to the partnership working for as long as it has?
Indrani: Absolutely. If we had the same point of view there wouldn't be any point in having this partnership. I think the thread of our collaboration and also what is extremely difficult is that we are so opposite in every way. When we both find something that we love it's truly something that can communicate to a broad range of people but getting there is very painful. [Laughs.]
JH: You do a photo shoot with Eve in the first episode but who else is coming this first season?
MK: We have an amazing lineup starting with Lady Gaga, which was fantastic. Naomi Campbell, Kim Kardashian, Paris Hilton. We have the Supermodel who is on the current Sports Illustrated issue Brooklyn Decker. We have some male supermodels like Mark Vanderloo. It's quite interesting for the audience to watch us work with Naomi Campbell, the ultimate supermodel. Then there's Brooklyn Decker, who is the new supermodel. There's also a huge difference between Lady Gaga, for instance, in her approach than Lindsay Lohan. Both are spectacular personalities but both with a different approach.
Indrani: And they are both really hot!
JH: Do you still get star struck despite having shot so many celebrities?
Indrani: Personally, I tend to fall in love a little bit with everyone we shoot. A large part of that is that my whole focus is to get to know them, understand them and to really present their most unique, exciting, positive qualities through our art. It's always very surprising for me to get to know these people because there are so many different layers and aspects to people that you wouldn't know from their public image.
JH: Markus, you talk in the show about bring professional seducers. Can you describe what exactly you mean by that?
MK: This is the business of seduction. The work that we create is meant to seduce the public to buy the project or to fall in love with the movie that we are advertising or the record cover...
Indrani: ...that's a really crass way of saying that. I don't see that way at all. I see it as the subject and the image needs to create this connection with you. The whole point is communication. I think it's less about seduction and more about communicating an idea. When you see an image that stays with you for the rest of your life, an image like our image of Beyonce, which kind of defines who she is, it changes you forever and you're not the same person anymore. That's our goal. For me it's really to cause people to look at the world in a different way.
MK: It's not about taking a model home after the show...
Indrani: ...unless you're really interested! [Laughs.]
MK: I'm talking about the fantasy of sensuality, the fantasy of looking fabulous, which is part of being in fashion, which is part of being in front of a camera...it is the glamour business after all. This duality between Indrani and myself is why a lot of our images stand the test of time because she is looking for totally different qualities often than I am.
JH: Indrani, can you talk about your own style? You're definitely not someone who walks around a set in t-shirt and jeans but you look ready to step in front of the camera.
Indrani: My personal style has evolved very dramatically. I started as a model at 14 but I was a total nerd. I was very focused on my schoolwork. When I became a model, I really took on the personality of the photo shoot that I was in but outside of that I had no sense of style. Then I went to Princeton and I was very happy in baggy t-shirts and sweatpants. I didn't want people to focus on my physical but I wanted to be intellectual. For many years as a photographer, I had no sense of style but I had very much an aesthetic sense and was very opinionated about the style of the people in our images. I realized through time that I was short-changing myself and making it very hard to be taken seriously. How could you talk about style when you had none of your own? It was very much a process of building my own self-esteem to get to that place and realizing I should apply my fashions to myself instead of only the images of my subjects. I focus on my own image now and I present myself how I see myself. I'm writing a book about it called 'Image Craft' about the process of creating your own image and presenting yourself to the world in a way that accurately represents who you are inside.
JH: Who would be your dream subjects who you haven't shot yet?
MK: Two very different people. One is Madonna...
Indrani: ...and the other is Barack Obama.
MK: Those two subjects would be the dream that maybe could happen after this show.
"Double Exposure" premieres tonight on Bravo and airs Tuesdays at 10:00/9:00c.