Game Changers Interview with International Award-Winning Photographer – Anand Sharan

Tell us a little about yourself.

I am a Professional Photographer and I have been a Photographer for about 25 years. But I started my career in Advertising and at the peak of my career I was the Director at a multinational advertising company, but I decided to quit. Because of the pull of Photography, the love of Photography was so much that I decided to quit. And take up Photography as a profession.

What inspired you to take up Photography as a profession?

One of the most influencing factors in my life was Late Mr. T. S. Satyan, world-famous Photographer and Photojournalist. And as a child, I have seen some of his pictures and the impact that it had on me, even till today, I will never forget his images. And, then we used to get a magazine called Life, big size magazine from America and the pictures there were awe-inspiring. This is one of the reasons, I took up Photography.

What were the challenges you faced?
When I joined the profession, because, you see, I quit at the peak of my career where I had all the facilities, perks that the corporate sector offers. Strangely, the reaction of most people when I quit a steady job was ‘Why take up Photography?’ Because even till today, we live in a status-conscious society where the perks working in corporate companies, being called a Director, matters a lot. So, the reactions were really strange, they said ‘Why Photography?’
Because mainly, the idea of Photography was somebody who shot pictures at a wedding & somehow scraped a living together. They never respected Photography, at least in my days as a profession. A very few people did and were able to accept it as an Art Form. The struggle has not changed and it still continues but I have overcome that because I enjoy my profession. 

What area of Photography do you specialize in?

I think I like shooting people, culture and ancient monuments because they’re being destroyed at a very rapid pace. See what has happened to the Notre Dame Cathedral, see what happened to the Buddha in Afghanistan and even in India, there are such beautiful places, such beautiful monuments, Ancient Monuments which are not taken care of. And I’d like to shoot those monuments and document them and also the rich heritage of our country and people.

What makes a good picture?

What makes a good picture is a little difficult to define, I wish I had points 1, 2, 3, 4… you do this, and you will get a good picture. When you see a picture, it depends on how you react to it. For me, sometimes even out of focus pictures, slow Shutter Speed pictures, blurred pictures, I react to it. And it’s an emotion and if you see different styles of Photographers, Xavier Zimbardo on one side and Ansel Adams, the classical Photographer, on the other. There is an ocean of difference, it’s an art form. And I react, I don’t really depend on the rules or my conditioning of how or why I should like the photographs or why I don’t like it, I just react to it and when I react then I try to analyze what has really gone into this picture to make it so attractive. It not only touches my heart but visually it has an impact on me.  

What differentiates a Professional from an amateur?

The difference, it’s a very thin line, these days, between Professional Photographers and Amateur Photographers. But, the people who make the grid, particularly as Professional Photographers and won International awards. They are, it’s a kind of an all-around education, not just the technical aspects of Photography, Music, the Books you’ve read, the people you know, people you have loved, everything goes into making a better picture. 

Tell us about the awards and recognitions you’ve received.

Black and White Spider Awards is that it is very important to me because I love Black and White, I have a conventional lab, where I used to shoot and film and develop and make prints. So, this Black and White Spider Awards and International Award in Los Angeles. And, the first time I saw it on the net, some about 10 years back, I was really inspired by the award-winning photographs there and it was my dream to win at least a nomination. But I won now, about 6 nominations or 7 nominations right from 2014. I have been winning both Black and White Spider Award and International Color Awards. What is very important is Magnum recognized my work 2 years back.

You’ve received international recognition. Kindly share your experience.
The Saatchi Gallery of London, even till today, they have given me free space on their official website, where I can post my pictures. And also, sell my pictures and the best part of Saatchi is, they don’t charge a commission, it’s free for me. That encouraged me a lot when I started off. Even before that, I was invited by the Italian Government in Florence, there was an exhibition sponsored by UNESCO and the Italian Government. So, that was one of the earliest awards, many years back.

What inspired you to start a Photography Workshop?

I realized that there are a lot of people who want to learn Photography from a Professional Photographer but they didn’t have time to wait for a long term course, they had time just for weekends to become a serious hobbyist. And that’s how I started and the response has been very good. I have had many international award-winning photographers pass out of my workshop, the same kind of awards that I have got, they have won and I am very proud of that. 

What can people expect at the workshop?

What I am offering is a two-day weekend workshop for serious hobbyists, 2 full days. Day 1, they have got the technical aspect covered, how shutter works, aperture works, how to take correctly exposed pictures, how your sensor works, colour temperature and so on. All the technical aspects as much as I can cover. And, on Day 2, is practicals. Practicals include on-location shoot where they learn how to handle the depth of field, and also different shutter speeds, understand metering and also shoot portraits both in-studio lights with studio setup, multi flashlight setup and also available light because most people when they go back they might not have flashlights. We also offer how-to shoot portraits in available light at home. And this broadly is the course structure of the two-day workshop. 

What’s your advice to aspiring Photographers?

What they need to do is study great photographers and also films and also art books, paintings, classical painters, renaissance painters. If they study those books, large size books are available at reasonable prices and also on the net. Download these pictures and study them because understanding the interplay of light and shadows and so on, it is all there in the paintings, that history has offered us. So, I think you should study these pictures up before you start claiming yourself to be a Professional Photographer.

Click here, to watch Anand Sharan’s interview.

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