While taking photography courses in high school, by 17 Sharma knew she wanted to pursue photography. Inspired by her sister’s love of fashion she knew she wanted to work with companies like Vogue, Harper’s Bazaar, Dior, and Chanel.
With her passion for creativity and her fascination with how photos can envoke emotion, Sharma went on to study photography in university. The OCAD alumni is now a published fashion photographer who also teaches photography workshops. In this exclusive interview, Sharma talks about her photography journey, gives us tips, and discusses how she grew her Instagram following.
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HOLR: After years of honing your photography skills, how would you describe your photography style?
So that took a long time. That was a question I got asked in University, and had to be prepared for. At the time I didn’t know. I think my style is very chic, very clean, effortless, and very simple. I utilize light and love contrast.
HOLR: How long did it take you until you realized what your photography style was? What was that process like?
It took me a while to realize the style I liked, I had a habit of dabbling into many kinds of looks and lighting styles until I realized what I liked the most. As an artist, this process was a great way to lead me in the right direction, you should always be experimenting. The only way you can really define your style is by trying everything or even trying something other artists haven’t done. Creating is always a process, it never really stops!
HOLR: What are some of the struggles you’ve faced as a photographer?
Finding work as a photographer when you first start. When you graduate from university, you’re very much an entrepreneur. I learned that slowly people aren’t going to come to you, you have to go to them first. You need to find your own work and create your own work. While doing that you will gain clientele.
It’s difficult to find who your clientele is and build that roster, and that was a challenge for me when I finished school. It always just comes with time.
HOLR: What’s the most important thing that needs to happen for a photoshoot to be successful?
The most important thing about a photo shoot is that you need to want to do it. I’ve definitely been on sites where I wasn’t 100% into the idea of the shoot and it showed in images even if the client was happy it wasn’t fully something I was proud of. You should always want to be ready to shoot and to be into the shoot, in order to make it into something really great. Always want to do what you want to shoot.
HOLR: So you taught photography workshops — what are some tips you would give for someone who wants to get into photography?
Be passionate about it, be willing to learn, be willing to break the rules. I was taught there was always rules and boundaries in photography and I completely disagree. I think you should be able to break those rules in terms of technical use, composing your photos, styles your shooting, models you’re working with. I think someone who is starting out should very much experiment with what they are doing and figure out their craft that way.
HOLR: What equipment would you recommend someone who is just starting out?
Work with whatever you can. Lighting and equipment don’t really matter when you have free natural lighting outside. If you’re buying a camera, make sure whatever you’re buying is worth it. Make sure your megapixels are as high as you can afford because that’s what’s going to make a good quality picture. You don’t technically need to buy a very fancy camera to shoot fancy images — you can shoot with film cameras or your iPhone. I think just practising composing even with your phone is a really good way to start because they are some incredible artists that don’t even use DSLR camera’s they use iPhones. We have so much technology now we don’t need to buy professional equipment.
HOLR: Can you give any tips on how to make a photo more interesting?
I feel like the subject is what makes the photo interesting, at least for me. Details in a photo are really important; like the landscape, the textures, the colours, the look of your model. Also experimenting with different lighting styles and make sure your subject matter is what your vision is. If your subject gives you a mood, a feeling — that’s what makes a photo interesting to me.
HOLR: Do you have any tips on how to pose, for someone that’s not a professional model?
I always try to pose them in any way shape or form. I always like to use Pinterest as an example in referencing models or other artists. They may not know what their best angles are and you don’ either so you gotta try everything, so everything from chin back, chin down, maybe raise your arm this way, so it’s all about just trying everything.
HOLR: Once you’ve established your portfolio and become interested in working with professional models how does one get in touch with modelling agencies?
It’s all about emailing and contacting. Contacting modelling agencies can be a scary step. I know it was for me, but you just have to have confidence in yourself — that you’re willing to learn, and that you want to work alongside agencies to get better. It’s just about reaching out, you just gotta rip the band-aid off and just reach out to them. They usually are really willing to help students and early photographers get better and learn, so it’s actually an incredible experience to get to work with modelling agencies. It’s just a matter of being confident to reach out. You never know what’s going to happen.
HOLR: Being a photographer is all about looking working in a team, what should you look for in a team?
When building a team, you can’t be too picky at the beginning because usually everyone is new to being on a team, while figuring out their strengths and weaknesses. I look for people who have just as much passion for the craft as I do, as well as look for people who are highly skilled, and most of the time many of my team members are self-taught, which I value a lot. I also look for people who are eager to learn and grow with me and my work, can bring idea’s and thoughts to the table and not be afraid to speak up in terms of visuals! I really can’t do what I do without my team, so I always make sure they’re credited and shown when I post my works.
You have over 10,000 followers on your Instagram. How did you grow your following?
I started a Youtube channel back in 2013, I really wanted to try videography and learn video and then followers grew over Instagram as well. I think it’s just people who related to me it wasn’t a strategic plan, I just like being myself and connecting to others.
Do you think the quality of photos is important for Instagram when growing your following?
As an artist and a photographer, I’m very much interested in quality images over quantity. I think visually as a person when you look at something and it’s perfectly put together and it’s high quality it’s going to draw people’s attention. So the quality of the image, an image that sort of has a meaning to it or if it’s beautifully composed whatever helps when it comes to gaining attention or an audience. It’s just human nature to like something pretty.
What do you love most about what you do?
Making people smile when I see my team light up when they see an image is probably one of the nicest feelings. I have a very hardworking team and all we want to do is create art and showcase it to the world. So when I’m reviewing photos on my camera and when everybody’s happy with themselves that’s probably my favourite part.
I like that photos can engage with a feeling. I follow a lot of artists where there images kind of just hit the heart. I’m very much a visual person, I like looking at things, I like seeing a painting. My favourite part of photography is how to capture somebody’s mind or body or soul in a photo without even having to read it in words.
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