Please tell us about yourself
Some people just make it look so easy. Amritsar-based photojournalist Aman Sharma got his break in photography when he was still in school, shooting for AP on a compact camera. From there he moved into sports photography, covering everything from the ICC Cricket World Cup to the Beijing Olympics. In town last month to shoot the Indian Premier League matches, the 30-year-old spoke about his career and his technique.
How did you get your start? How did you end up in such an offbeat, unconventional and cool career?
I started photographing for the Associated Press when I was still in school. My father was writing for AP and would occasionally shoot pictures for them with his compact film camera. When he lost his camera and bought a new compact Nikon, he asked me to go through the users’ manual and figure out how to use the camera. I did and took some pictures for him of the dead bodies coming back from Kargil to Amritsar. He filed them for AP and the chief photographer in Delhi, John McConnico, liked the photos. He asked me to shoot some features and sent me a Nikon D90x and a couple of lenses. I did a feature on the local grain market and it was on the AP wire.
Things worked out well after that. Sometime later McConnico asked me to shoot a cricket match at Mohali between India and England and sent me a 600mm lens from Delhi. I had no clue then about shooting cricket. I called up my uncle in Amritsar who was a studio photographer and technically very proficient. He gave me some tips and I went to Mohali for the match. I filed pictures through a device called LeafFax which was an AP invention.
My pictures from that match got good play in England and the big bosses in AP noticed me. After that I was asked to cover another match in Ahmedabad. I flew to Ahmedabad, my second air travel in life, and shot the match. After Ahmedabad, I was pretty much shooting cricket for AP all over. In 2003 I covered the Cricket World Cup in South Africa. I left AP in 2008 to go to Australia. I came back in 2010 and am now working for the Press Trust of India.
Tell us about your technique.
Hard work is rewarding in this job, like any other. I learnt early on how a batsman moved and tried to get all action with batsman’s face nicely in focus and the cricket ball somewhere in the frame. I became known for my batting action pictures in particular. Now with modern-day camera equipment the job is much easier. But quality of photos is as important as ever. I competed well with the best in my field even when I was young and inexperienced, that gave me a lot of confidence. I took a lot of risk. While still a beginner, I moved from the standard shooting positions and experimented with different viewpoints. That was one of the reasons why my work was noticed.
I still feel very angry when I miss a diving action or good swing of the bat while shooting. In an ideal situation I should get all the action on the ground in frames. That’s my aim.
What’s a story you’d like to do?
One day I would like to do a photo feature on Indians being crazy about cricket – what makes them so passionate about the game.
How do you like shooting in Dharamshala?
I enjoy shooting in Dharamshala very much. There is always something more than cricket when I am here. One of my all-time favorite shots of Inzamam-ul-Haq, then captain of the Pakistan cricket team, walking to the dressing room with a lovely backdrop of snow-covered mountains, was taken here in Dharamshala.