Vineet Sharma

Posted: September 17, 2017 in Interviews
Vineet Sharma is one of the most prominent street photographer from India. With his hard work and dedication he has made a name in documentary photography in a very short time. He belongs to Varanasi. By profession, he is an administrator in a business firm. Photography is one of his passions. Through this art he has captured the essence of India as a multi-cultural vibrant society.
1. How would you describe yourself briefly as a person?
I would describe myself as an easy going and a happy person. I’m also very determined and highly motivated in life. I also love to help people and have a great passion for photography.
2. Describe your photographic odyssey.  How it started and where do you find yourself now? 
Photography is my greatest passion. It gives me extreme peace from all the mental and physical stress of the day to day struggle. I have never taken any professional training since I’ve had financial troubles. But i used help from google and learn techniques online and implement them in my photos and I’m still learning and will continue to use help from google. I started my photography in December, 2012 as a beginner in a contest and I bought a second hand camera and started this as my new hobby. Due to my job I didn’t get much time to pursue this new hobby but i made sure I’d spend my Sundays on photography. I follow the same schedule till date.
3. Most of your work is based of cultural and documentary nature. Do you feel it keeps you more in touch with real life as compared to other genres of photography?
Yes, definitely. I am a ground level person so, I know what the real feelings and emotions of a comman man are, and, I always want to know how a comman man  feels so I capture his expressions when he is happy or sad or while they are practicing their rituals. For composing an emotional and natural frame, I familiarize myself with the person with whom I’m shooting. I always like to capture the emotions of humans during cultural activities.
4. Photography has been compared with the work of an anthropologist with a camera as a tool. How would you describe your social vision?
Yes you could say that the genre of the photography that I practice is like anthropology because my photographs study the social and cultural behavior of humans in Banaras. I’d say that my photographs can even capture the essence of my city and its people.
5. You have rapidly developed in to a mature artist. How was your able to achieve this? Can you share your struggle and secrets of success?
I believe that my competition is with myself and I never compare myself with anybody. My mistakes have always guided me because I am a self observer of my photos. By looking at my previous work, I always try to figure out what I can edit in that frame which could make it more meaningful. This habbit increased my composition skills. I’d go through my old folders and enjoy going through my journey as a photographer. Some photos would communicate loud enough to tell me that I could do better. I would repeat some of my frames and compose them in new ways to add new elements of a story to them. This, I believe is the main reason of my achievements. I still believe that I am a beginner and can learn much more. In my journey a lot of other budding photographers come to me with questions and I am happy to help them as in this profession ‘sharing and learning’ is the best policy.
6. Do you think a formal training in art school is essential? How you learned photography?
Yes of course it’s necessary. If i had the time I’d love to train myself under a professional. However, my madness for photography has driven me to learn on my own which is my strength. I’ve learnt everything with the help of Google so far.
7. How would you rate the current work in India with that being produced at international level? What are the new artistic trends in Indian art circles? 
The rate is definitely increasing by the day. There are great number of groups on social media like Facebook that expose us internationally. Many photographs and artists have started being recognized on international platforms.
8. From whom you have been most impressed in photography? Do you still keep learning from the work of masters or do you feel they hinder and blunt your innate personal vision?
I follow the works of Steve Mccury and Sabastiao Salgado. I always try to see their work in my free times. It will be a great opportunity if I get a chance to meet these photography legends.
9. Do you feel photography influences one’s personality as literature and other genres of art do? How it has changed your own personality and world view?
I think Photographs are mirrors of our society which can seen by everyone. Sometimes a perfect photo can give us an idea for solving problems. Sometimes Photographs communicate between two different communities or personalities. They can also express feelings, thoughts, ideas and opinions. It changed my personality and worldview as I started seeing everything in more detail and it added more perspective to my thoughts.
10. What is your photography routine? How much time you spend in it and how you are able to manage it.
I never decided any fixed routine for my photography but once I hang my camera on my shoulder, my mind starts working. I always prefer street photography and can gladly say that my city’s lanes are popular for street photography  known as “VARANASIAN STREETS” or “GALI BANARAS”. As I said earlier, due to my job I don’t have much time for photography and in a week I touch my camera every Saturday night for charging my Camera, and then the next day I start my photography at 4.30 AM and continue till about 11.00 AM. Sometimes it’s depend on my mood and weather but, I resume after 2.00 PM, and my wife and my two kids join me during shoots. I also, use them as subjects to add life and character to my frames.
11. What do you think are the benefits of social media in promotion of art in today’s world?
 I already mentioned earlier that social groups are a great platform that helps us to get recognized internationally.
12. Do you think photography can help promote tolerance and human value in our lives? Do you feel you have been able to make a difference with your work?
Yes of course. Photography can help communicate current scenarios of everyday life, what people are going through, their troubles, their happiness, everything. This in particular is the kind of typology that interests me. I truly hope that I have been able to make a difference through my work.
13. Name some of your compatriots who have impressed you. 
Of Indian photographers, Raghu Rai is my favorite, especially his old work in analogue technology before the digital cameras were invented.
14. Do you work with some project in mind or prefer a random collection of what catches your attention?  
Usually I have a random collection on similar social subjects.
But if I get a chance I’d love to work on specific projects. In the past, I have worked with foreign photographers on their Varanasian Street Project and Heritage Building Projects of Varanasi.
15. Any other lesson/advice you would like to give to an aspiring photographer.
Well I give some tips to the beginners. For example, when you buy a new camera always read the entire manual carefully and understand the kind of options and features that it supports.
After that you could get help from photography guides or seniors.
Lastly, if all else fails go online and use Google search for your questions and queries, there are a lot of links available that could solve most of your problems.

Solitude of the night

Posted: September 1, 2017 in Ramblings of an artist


It is often mentioned that a photograph is worth 1000 words. Probably its so but there are moments for which it doesn’t s not seem a suitable medium for expression.

In moments like these, one likes to sit back in a calm quite room reflecting on the inner turmoil waiting for the inner and outer circumstances converge emotionally, which is not always the case; and when it does so it might be in ways indescribable by any means of expression.

It is almost midnight at my native town. Whole family gathered for Eid celebration is excited for tomorrow’s festivities and children, in excitement have refused to sleep. Stillness of the night and its loneliness has stirred a storm of memories. Of times never to return again and of people—-without whom life seemed impossible once— never to be seen again.

An inner restlessness, realizing a deep void within the soul and solitude of the midnight is something which is impossible to convey. Unable to sleep, tossing in the bed, memories rushing in like torrents. Nostalgia of the past normally suppressed by professional requirements in cosmopolitan urban life, turns in to an anguish, a vast sense of irremediable loss.

The camera seemed more a burden than a companion for much of it and the words seem the only crutches for support. It may still be impossible to convey but at least it would be a source of catharsis and a means to analyse the chaotic noise in my mind.

Bewildered and haunted through flashes of memories that relive themselves
I sit and ponder and look into the sky
there is no pain greater than been lost in SELF
battling with a STRONG shadow called SADNESS
she stalks and haunts and bring you moments of agony
she comes along with her sister ANGUISH
and they taunt you,
galvanizing and pinpointing your mind to the PAST you left behind




(Translation of an article of Umair Ghani, a prominent photographer of Pakistan.)

Pakistani photographers must realize this fact now that a soft image of this country (or any other country) can’t be built by showing its photo shopped landscapes to the world.Rather it requires to abandon retrogressive thinking and an attitude of intolerance, which unfortunately have become our cultural and social introduction at present.

In the last seven decades of Pakistan’s history, apart from Islamabad camera club and the  Samir ur Rehman;s Photographic Art Society of Pakistan, not a single institution or group has added anything significant Pakistani photography with consistency. Mutual conflicts and an ambition to be labelled as a legend at a very early stage have deprived contemporary Pakistani photographers of any ideology regarding this art form. Intolerance for difference of opinion and and extremist mindset has resulted in the present inertia prevalent in national photography scene. It is true that some individuals, shunning this group politics, are contributing serious work; but in the overall atmosphere of aggressive self-promotion and leg pulling, their efforts seem ineffectual to bring any major change.

Pakistani photographers of current generation should know that if we have legends, they are to be found among well known names of Nisar Mirza (pride of performance for his photographic coverage of 1967 Arab-Israel war), Aftab Ahmad (Pride of Performance, Col. Umar, F E Chaudhrey (Pride of Performance), M R Owaisi (Pride of Performance, Sami ur Rahman (Pride of Performance), Mian Majeed, Syed Javed Qazi (Pride of Performance), Zafar Ahmad, Azhar Jafri, Syed Nayyar Reza, Shahid Zaidi, Arif Mahmood and Salim Khawar. These and their contemporaries truly achieved international recognition and brought Pakistani photography to global recognition. All of them won status of associates of prestigious organisations like FIAP, RPS and PSA, deserve accolades; but their contributions have not been researched or preserved by any institution within Pakistan. Camera brands spend millions on self promotion, but fail to develop national photographic archives. Maybe those desirous of becoming a legend through brand promotion just within few years of purchasing digital cameras are too scared to be lost in the echo of so many big giants if they acknowledge these names.

Since Islamabad Camera Club is inactive now, Sami ur Rahman through Photographic Art Society of Pakistan has played a pivotal role in exhibiting the work of Pakistani photographers and preserving it in catalogs for last 30 years. Top priority of this forum has been to create public awareness about current trends of photography in Pakistan and to preserve representative work of each era. It has been able to create an archive of images comprising last thirty years through its catalogs. We have such wonderful people who can serve as guide to perform commendable work for art of photography in this country. The multinational camera brands active in Pakistan need to pay attention in this direction as well. To play a role in social uplift of a society is the moral duty of companies who earn huge financial profits from people of that country. If any brand really intends to win the hearts of people of Pakistan, it would require something more concrete than merely arranging wedding photography workshops. A selfless devotion to promote photography as an art form needs to be included among priorities of brand promotion. Preserving pictures in archives would help photography to be included in main stream visual arts.

It requires a moral courage to accept the contributions of real legends of Pakistan’s photography. Any individual or organisation addressing this much needed step would achieve a lasting status in history.

Please mark my words; ‘throughout human history, only those works of art play significant role which were made through utmost devotion and with distinctive artistic ideology’.


My friends

Posted: July 9, 2017 in Ramblings of an artist

I have two sets of friends.
Those who live in Pakistan, face all problems, want this country to a be liberal progressive and democratic;  free from all types of senseless killings in the name of religion and sects. They are concerned that their children should live and study with peace of mind.
Then I have another set of friends.
Those who left Pakistan many decades ago without intention of coming back. They are well settled,  with their children now in European or American universities. Their children in many cases can’t even speak proper Urdu.
Naturally these friends always seem to be worried about Pakistan.
In discussions when they offer solutions for our problems, they tend to suggest Islamic shariah for this wayward country, stressing the need for some honest but ruthless fanatic to come and enforce it.
Their proclivity to support or justify religious extremism is surprising.
They tend to justify the brutality of militant organisation or show a soft corner for them. I feel their ignorance of ground realities of Pakistan plus a romantic attachment with religion combines to support mayhem caused by religious fanatics. 

Despite all protestations they prescribe a heavy dose of God’s fear for us, praying for some Messiah to push this bitter pill through throats of this poor hapless nation for which they have emotional link.
All this seems funny as I am unable to explain the difference. Does living abroad changes one’s outlook so much?

Posted: June 26, 2017 in Ramblings of an artist

All forms of art aim for self-expression and thus of life itself.  It doesn’t  matter much what the art is. It may be photography, painting, sculpture or writing, ultimately it remains a medium for catharsis and self-expression.

Important thing is to pursue your chosen art with honestly and dedication. It must reflect yourself in it. All else is art for art’s sake: a renouncement of meaning in favor of benign aesthetics, entertainment rather than exploration, obfuscating the self rather than revealing it.

But in the end, all art is expressive, and art that is detached from its creator and from the mysteries of life, expresses the detachment of the age and the culture that celebrates it.

A friend of mine recently asked me where I could find so many interesting characters?

Actually all these people exist around us though in our busy life of a metropolis we don’t seem to notice their existence. It is seeing without looking. 

The fast paced life in a capitalist culture is making us impervious to human life around us. As Albert Camus rightly said, ‘As a remedy to life in society I would suggest the big city. Nowadays, it is the only desert within our means’

My goal is not to document the life, or to capture its thrill to others who may not experience them otherwise. Actually the aim is to share something of my own feelings while roaming in streets. A conscious effort to cross that desert of feelings.

In the words of Charles Baudelaire,  “What strange phenomena we find in a great city, all we need do is stroll about with our eyes open. Life swarms with innocent monsters.”

I have no desire to attract people to the places that inspire me, but to inspire them to seek their own. To seek their own ‘innocent monsters’.




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Dust of the soul

Posted: June 7, 2017 in Ramblings of an artist

A viewer looks at the finished product of art and judges it for its artistic and aesthetic value. An artist does the same. However for him, it is also a means of self-expression in which the very process of creation is source of satisfaction and fulfillment; sometimes with total disregard of viewers’ appreciation.

In the words of Pablo Picasso, ‘the purpose of art is washing the dust of daily life off our souls.

In this modern digital world, the effort of get noticed has become tough with ultimate success in art being measured on the basis of ‘likes’ on social media or the number of  exhibitions. In this continuous effort to keep afloat, the sheer joy and satisfaction of creation may be lost. In so doing, knowingly or unknowingly, we forfeit the greatest rewards that art has to offer.

Art is not a business entrepreneurship. Here the ultimate success may not measureable in visible, material forms. Here the most rewarding part (if so pursued) is the process, not the product. To apply the mercantile laws to art and trying to make the process of production more efficient, productive or any other business like goal indeed makes being an artist just another job.

The worst part of this attitude is the mutual competition to be on the top with an aim to capture a narrow art market. Somewhere along the line the sheer joy of creative process is irreversibly lost. Art instead of being a source of enjoyment becomes another burden to carry.

Why would anyone commit such a senseless act?