It can be said that it was Providence that brought Sharad Haksar in contact with photography when his father gifted him with a camera at the age of three (ironically, in most homes, that's the age we would hide the camera from the child). But it was when he was gifted with the added bonus of having the well-known industrial photographer R Krishnan as his neighbour and family friend that kicked off his interest in photography. Yet, Sharad considered it only as a hobby. But when he was on the threshold of choosing architecture as a professional discipline, he came in touch with celebrated and revered photographer Iqbal Mohamed, who inspired him to revamp his entire professional plan.
It was Providence once again that played a role when Sharad showed his 'amateur work' to Iqbal. Seeing immense potential and promise in the work, Iqbal asked him to reconsider his profession. Sharad followed him to Bengaluru and Iqbal opened his mind to the creative world of photography. And soon, the fledgeling took flight slowly but surely from one assignment to another - small steps led to bigger leaps. Thus began his career as an advertising and fashion photographer in 1990.
But Sharad was never content with just taking photographs and creating ads for clients. He always worked keeping in mind the social cause. As a photographer, his mind was alert to pick up minute details that are seldom caught by the lens of the naked eye. It was this attention to detail and being aware of thoughts beyond lens that always encouraged him to be aware of society's ills and problems. He wanted to take pictures that would communicate his thoughts and speak out his innermost expressions. The most important things are often the most difficult to say. Yet, that is the time Sharad chose to speak up. And he did, in the only way he knew best: photography. He shot a series of photographs titled 'Irony'. He worked on two series on this topic: 'Brand Irony' and 'Divine Ironies'.
'Brand Irony' communicated the message loud and clear. His creativity as a photographer combined with his sensitivity was communicated boldly and with a certain deliberation. He was young but it did not prevent him from spelling out truth as he saw it. Basically a quiet and unassuming person, Sharad rarely takes sides or voices his opinions strongly. It is even more difficult to make him talk about himself. The only way he communicates is through his photographs.
Sharad took on giants in the corporate world when he juxtaposed his thoughts with existing imagery to drive home truth - these photographs won him a lot of critical acclaim also because he had the courage of conviction to stand up to giants like David did against the mythical Goliath. The idea was not to create sensationalism but give out a clarion call to awaken people from their deep slumber to see the paradox of life in all its true colours.
In 'Divine Ironies', he once again encompassed the work of street wall artists who painted divine images and he juxtaposed them with images of the real world to create a new metaphor of his own. This not only helped in communicating his vision, but it also highlighted the fading scenario of street artists.
In 2009, when he realised that there was no good platform for photographers to interact and exchange ideas on, he created a grand portal called 'One Eyeland' that helped create a
global community for photographers. Today, One Eyeland not only publishes the best pictures that find entries into the book annually, but it also has a panel that chooses the top 10 photographers in the world (based on several themes/categories), and each of the winners are awarded and recognised by One Eyeland.
Sharad is easily one of India's most-acclaimed photographers having won several awards and recognition. In 2005, Popular Photography named him as one of the 'Top Ten Lensmen' in the world. In the same year, Adobe Galgo called him the 'Photographer of the Year' in India. Luerzer's Archive in 2006 listed him as one of the 200 best photographers in the world.
He has over 200 regional, national, international and creative awards till date. His constant urge for learning from different people have honed his skills as an artiste with a keen eye for fashion, still life, travel, conceptual photography and advertising. To him also goes the credit for inventing the world's first camera lens calendar (chiselled from a single block of aluminium and has dates running up to 2032), which he has patented .
When asked about digital photography and photoshop, he only has this to say: "The digital world is here to stay. But a gadget alone cannot create good photographs. While it is true that the gadget helps, it is most pertinent to observe how creatively the photographer has allowed his creative juices to flow, and how well he is able to ignite his imagination each time."
Sharad continues to move from one moment to another, always seeking, always travelling, literally and figuratively. He chooses places that appeal to his photographic lens - the history, the serene beauty wrapped in nature's bounty, and he most consciously avoids tourist rush hours or tourist spots. It was his love for travel coupled with his love for photography in all his waking hours that inspired him to capture all the magnificent moments through his lens. His more recent exhibitions cover his travel where the 'photographer for all seasons' found himself capturing the architectural splendour of Italy in summer and Iceland in winter, and Japan in autumn and spring.
Love for nature
Enjoying nature as he does, he made use of the little window (10 days) during spring in Japan when the trees come alive with the beauty of the cherry blossoms! Sharad was moved by the ethereal mood of the cherry blossoms ranging from white to a soft pink and when he captured the statue of Buddha enveloped in pink cherry blossoms, he also captured the mystery of the Buddha himself. The koyo leaves that spell the visit of autumn inspired him to capture the beautiful outpouring of red. He catches the spirit of Iceland in colours of blue - a neon-blue iceberg afloat a light-blue sea, an ice cave of blue and black, and shimmering crystals of ice dotting a velvety layer of water, thus bringing out the magic of a place through colours. The blues were symbolic of what winter has in store as man ages too looking for abiding peace. He thus uses colours (red and white for Japan, yellow ochre for Italy, blue for Iceland) to set the tone and mood for the subject and the place.
He signs off saying that he draws inspiration from everything around him and he competes with only himself as he seeks to evolve with each passing day. Another new land soon... another new exhibition with renewed zeal... and it will hold new promises of the creator to his audiences. His latest works are reflective of him as a photographer moving into a space beyond its realm - a place where one art weaves unconsciously into another, a place where he has transcended into the world of art and I had to ask the question: is this a painting or a photograph?