Vadukul was discovered in 1984 by the Japanese designer Yohji Yamamoto, who assigned the then 22-year-old Vadukul one of his prestigious ad campaigns. It was the first of several Yamamoto campaigns for Vadukul and introduced the photography world to his dynamic movement-filled black-and-white images.
In the 1990’s, as the second staff photographer in The New Yorker Magazine‘s history (following Richard Avedon), he emerged as one of the world’s foremost portrait photographers, capturing hundreds of subjects ranging from Mother Theresa and Salman Rushdie to Mick Jagger and Mikail Baryshnikov. His book, “MAX,” published in 2000 by Nicholas Callaway, came out the same year as Helmut Newton’s “Sumo,” helping start the trend of oversized large-format photography books.
From 1996 to 2000 he held the post of The New Yorker’s staff photographer, shooting an average of 52 assignments a year. Other subjects included Al Gore, James Brown, Donald Trump, Natalie Portman, Tom Hanks, Roger Federer, Tilda Swinton, David Geffen, and a group portrait of 40 Nobel laureates. Vadukul has also photographed campaigns for Chloé, Comme des Garçons, Longchamp, Armani, Emanuel Ungaro, Sandro, and HBO’s “Six Feet Under.”