Nitin Vadukul, Ingenious Photographer of Hip-Hop, Dies at 52

Nitin Vadukul, Ingenious Photographer of Hip-Hop, Dies at 52

“He understood hip-hop, he was collaborative, and he made it enjoyable,” Eminem wrote of Mr. Vadukul in an e-mail. “Chain saws, blood, a face stuffed with nails … he was in.”

David Curcurito, a former inventive director of The Supply, mentioned that after photograph shoots Mr. Vadukul would gap up in his condominium for days, turning footage on his laptop into painting-like visions. Wyclef Jean, LL Cool J and different performers started requesting him for their very own shoots.

“Earlier than all the photographers have been utilizing Photoshop, he was definitely a pioneer in manipulating images digitally,” Mr. Curcurito mentioned.

Nitin Shantilal Vadukul was born on April 20, 1965, in Nairobi, Kenya, as a British topic of Indian heritage. His father, Shantilal Karsandas Vadukul, was a touring digicam salesman and beginner photographer; his mom, the previous Shantaben Vara, was a homemaker who later labored in crayon and wiring factories to complement the household earnings.


Mr. Vadukul armed Eminem with a series noticed in 2000, evoking a horror-movie villain.

Fearing violence, the household fled the nation within the 1960s after Kenya had gained independence and laws was handed stopping tens of hundreds of non-Kenyans from working, an motion that heightened racial tensions. Forsaking their materials possessions, the household emigrated to England in 1969, settling in Enfield, a northern London suburb.

Mr. Vadukul attended Enfield Grammar Faculty, however by age 15 he had determined to pursue a profession in images as a substitute of higher-level research, hoping to construct on his pocket-size portfolio of Kodachrome slide transparencies.

Ray Massey, an promoting photographer who used particular results, took him on as an assistant.

By 1985, Mr. Vadukul was pursuing freelance promoting and editorial assignments in London, and later in Paris. Whereas he continued to shoot adverts for corporations like Nike and IBM, by the mid-1990s he had moved to New York and was additionally taking over assignments for the youth-focused journal Particulars.


Pushing the boundaries of portraiture, Mr. Vadukul had the singer Iggy Pop maintain a dove to the sky.

James Truman, a former editor in chief of Particulars, mentioned that in a typical 30-minute photograph shoot, Mr. Vadukul “would strive every kind of loopy issues.”

“Normally,” he added, “it was the loopy issues that delivered the memorable footage.”

For Particulars, Mr. Vadukul experimented with the boundaries of portraiture: In a single occasion he had the singer Iggy Pop maintain a dove to the sky; in one other, he created deliberately grainy pictures of the actor Tommy Lee Jones.


In a digitally enhanced {photograph}, the rapper Dr. Dre was portrayed bursting by way of flames.

Credit score
Nitin Vadukul

He went on to turn into the first-choice photographer for The Supply, for which he portrayed Dr. Dre bursting by way of flames and Queen Latifah exhaling a viper’s tongue of cigar smoke. A number of of his cowl images have been featured within the 2002 coffee-table guide “Hip Hop Immortals Quantity One” and have been a part of a worldwide touring exhibit.

On the identical time, rock artists like Ozzy Osbourne additionally started collaborating with Mr. Vadukul for albums, and Newsweek featured his portraits of Barack Obama, then a senator, in 2004.


Mr. Vadukul produced this portrait of Barack Obama in 2004, when he was an up-and-coming senator from Illinois, for Newsweek.

In 1997, Mr. Vadukul married Marianna Morrison and moved to the Hudson Valley, the place he pursued tremendous artwork images. By the late 2000s, he was exhibiting his conceptual images internationally. In a single collection, “The Artwork of Struggle,” he portrayed navy gear as shrouded by loss of life.

His marriage resulted in divorce in 2010, and in his later years he struggled with alcoholism, which his brother mentioned he overcame.

Mr. Vadukul ultimately moved to Los Angeles, the place he photographed native musicians and directed music movies for them.

Along with his brother, his survivors embrace his youngsters, Nitin and Aysha Vadukul; his mom; and a sister, Nilam Kumari.

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