Leaving a corporate profession for a creative one isn’t for the weak-hearted. This week in our interview section, we would like to introduce you one such resolute man Atul Sharma. Atul gave up his career in law to become a photographer and now sees himself involved in various genres artistically. Photography has been Atul’s passion and has made him travel far and wide. Here’s an inspiring tete-a-tete with him!
(Visit his complete portfolio at atulsharma.com)
1. You gave up a career in law to follow your passion for photography. Clearly, the role of ‘passion’ in your life has been big. How has the journey been so far?
Yes, passion has been big and am loving the journey so far…
Upon graduating from law school,I inherited my father’s legal practice but was not happy at all to be within the confines of a 9to5 routine. I realized quite early that there had to be more to life, something beyond that beaten path…conventional wisdom made no sense to me!
By temperament I’m an explorer – of the world around me, and of within myself. Photography is the means, and passion is what helps me endure the tough parts of this journey.
2. How did you discover photography? Who has been your biggest support in your transition from a lawyer to a photographer?
My father presented me a camera when I was 9, and that became my introduction to photography.I continued with some interest when at boarding school. The appearance of an image on a blank paper was almost magical. The dark room did have its effect on me.
A few years later, just as I joined university and sadly just before he suddenly passed away, my father presented me again with a camera, an SLR. Ever since, my camera has been a constant part of my life.
The transition from law to photography was also the time I met my wife to be, and she has been my biggest support all this time.
3. You’ve categorized your photographs into two sections- ‘Mind’ and ‘Soul’. Tell us more about the idea behind this categorization.
My personal work, whether on the street or out in the wilderness, is about communing with nature. I consider the images as divine grace – my contribution (of capturing the image on film, now sensor) is mere. I just happen to be present there at the spot, when the light & composition come together. It touches my soul – the tingling in the spine, goose bumps, a stillness, a tranquil “no mind” experience ……It’s a feeling very difficult to express in words. I just bow my head down in reverence and greedily ask for more. The constant yearning for this sensation is what made me take up photography full time and keeps me going. It’s about surrendering.
“You don’t take pictures; the good ones happen to you.” – Ernst Haas
This one happened to me one evening in Goa when I was shooting a composition in exactly the opposite direction
Commissioned commercial work on the other hand, originating from & targeted at mundane worldly ends, is mostly in the realm of the “mind” and is about control – namely art direction, deadlines,budgets, sets, talent, etc. etc. – building the image from scratch at times.Very enjoyable too and many times soul touching as well.Hence, the categorization.
A soul touching moment on a recent assignment for a real estate client.
4. Speaking of inspiration, are there any photographers that you admire?
I’m entirely self-taught and Henri Cartier Bresson, Ernst Haas, Galen Rowel are names which immediately come to mind as those whose work inspires me.
5. Your photography covers many different genres. Which one of them do you most identify with and why?
I do not like being pigeon holed. I’m a free wheeling spirit,so a particular genre is tough to choose. I enjoy the varied challenges thrown up by the different genres. Lets just say it’s really the ‘moment’ that works for me. It could be a landscape, cityscape, portrait, sport or a building. But if you were to push me to choose, I’d say I love being outdoors, experiencing nature in all forms, so landscape and nature are my first choice.
6. With so much competition on the internet, how hard is it to stay ahead of the pack and get yourself noticed?
I’m present on the net but surely not ahead of the pack. It’s always been hard work and a bit of luck is always helpful!
7. Is there any piece of legal advice you would want to share with photographers as they battle copyright claims and piracy?
Yeah, I gave up a lawyer’s practice nearly 30 years ago, so more than legal advice, the practical wisdom I’d like to share is that the internet is a double edged sword – piracy comes with the territory – so be prudent & follow the excellent guidelines offered by ASMP and other similar organizations.
8. Share with us your experience with Pixpa.
I had been struggling for over a year to update my website without any luck and was very frustrated at this.Then I came across Pixpa and had my site up in two hours.
It was so easy to setup, even without any coding knowledge, with the customer support being quick and helpful. I really appreciate how painless it is with the intuitive Pixpa system to quickly update as and when needed.