We’re all too familiar with Murad Osmann, the Russian lensman who set Instagram ablaze with his Follow Me To series featuring his then girlfriend and now wife, Natalia Zakharova, holding just his hand in exotic locales. Here he talks about five of his best shots.
Osmann picks his 5 best Instapics
Taj Mahal, Agra, India
I am not saying this merely because I’m being interviewed by an Indian magazine, but this wonder of the world has earned me one of the most iconic shots in the series.
We were told that the Taj Mahal is always overcrowded, even if you visit at sunrise. So, once we took the position to shoot, our friends had to hold people back. You can imagine how hard it was to get this shot! It was published on the covers of worldwide magazines: National Geographic and Harper’s Bazaar.
We have shot twice at the Taj Mahal. The first shoot was in front of the Taj, but this time I wanted to capture her from the back of the monument: the view from there is much more beautiful. I wanted to shoot the arch, with the Taj at the centre, because that’s the best way to frame the arch. But when Natalia stood in front, she blocked the monument. When I asked her to move closer, she became too small and the Taj very big. The closer you go to monuments, the more gigantic they look – and not that beautiful either.
Zhavoronki Hall, Moscow, Russia
Moscow is our home, and it’s full of contrasts! We took pictures at the most beautiful places in the city: the Red Square, the Bolshoi Theatre, Temple of Christ the Saviour… This month we have launched a new video guide about our city showing all our favourite places.
Since she was a child, Natalia had wanted to get married in a fairy tale castle. So, we decided to tie the knot at Moscow’s Zhavoronki Hall. It was incredibly emotional. We were surrounded by flamingos, unicorns and clouds. While taking this picture, I knew Natalia was smiling. I could feel it, even with her back turned to me.
There were about 200 people at the wedding, from Moscow, Izhevsk, Dagestan, England, USA, Georgia, Italy, Azerbaijan... It was quite difficult to unite the east and the West, to create a pleasant atmosphere. But the differences in culture added to the occasion. For example, my friends – half-Scottish, half-Colombians – turned up at the wedding in kilts. Natalia’s parents danced the waltz, while my parents and friends danced to R&B.
I chose an unusual purple colour. It was a hit, as it had much in common with the concept of our wedding. Natalia took six months to choose a dress and she finally stopped at Vera Wang. After the formal wedding ceremony, she changed into another dress by Russian designer Maya Likhacheva, with Indian motifs.
Hollywood, Los Angeles
We were flying over Hollywood in a helicopter with no doors. Natalia was leaning out wearing a long dress, while I was inside the chopper holding her hand and shooting. Three people from inside were holding Natalia’s dress and were more scared than both of us. Since you are not allowed to fly along the Hollywood sign, we decided to fly over it. While the helicopter was my idea, it was Natalia’s decision to do so without the doors. “I felt like I was working in one of those Bond flicks,” says Natalia.
Chand Baori, Jaipur
My best memory of shooting in Jaipur is how the security team at Chand Baori tried to catch us for trespassing! While our friends distracted them at the entrance, we crept inside, but had just a few minutes for a shot. This time when we went to Jaipur, we had a mock wedding at Nahargarh Fort. It wasn’t easy to sit there for so long in the heat while wearing such heavy clothes and jewellery. We were told that people remain awake till 4am during weddings.
Four Seasons, Maldives
We honeymooned in the Maldives. For two days, we caught waves, did yoga and ate seafood delicacies. Then we grabbed the camera and began shooting again. So we got pictures with perfect blue lagoons and sunny beaches.
During our honeymoon, we stayed at the Four Seasons Maldives, which is located right in the water near the coast. The clothes for Follow Me To pictures were brought from Moscow, and Natalia wore a dress by Svetlana Kushnerova and swimsuits by the Russian brand @lavarice.
I do not have to worry about my clothes, because in the photos, followers can only see my hand, not my outfit!
*Osmann had 4.4 million followers at the time of going to press.
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From HT Brunch, December 18
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