Sharad Haksar is an award winning photographer and founder/CEO of 1pointsize, “a unique ad agency” in Chennai.
Why are you a photographer?
What else can I be? I’ve been hanging around with a camera since god-knows-when. I guess the joy of capturing a moment in its most glorious form, is what drew me to photography. As I am evolving, I realize my driving force is no longer the quest for a pretty picture. It’s the thrill of sharing what I see with my creative eye. That’s what keeps me going.
Do you remember any decisive moment when you felt ‘I want to be a photographer’?
I wanted to be an architect. I was in the process of applying to colleges. One day, I just shared my work with photographer Iqbal Mohamed. He just asked me to give up my college plans and join him. That was the most decisive moment.
Were there any particular role models for you when you grew up?
My role models keep varying with time. In my formative years, it was the venerable names in photography – the likes of Ansell Adams and Raghu Rai. After 20 years of shooting, I’d say, I don’t have one role model now. I feel there’s a lot to learn from so many talented people in photography, advertising and design.
Who was the most influential personality on your career in photography?
Without a doubt, Iqbal Mohamed. He spotted me first. And took me under his wings. I am what I am today because of him.
How has photography changed over the course of the last couple of decades? Is digital execution more important than it used to be?
There’s a lot more sophistication now in the equipment. Digital cameras have become ubiquitous. So much so everyone thinks they can snap great pictures. What they forget is no matter how good the machine, it’s the eye behind the camera, that matters. That will never change with time.
Yes, digital has empowered execution. It has handed us photographers the power to retouch, airbrush and chroma-key images, as soon as the shot is over. In an era when finish is everything, it really helps.
What do you think of the current state of Print Advertising photography in India? Is it at par with the work done worldwide?
The current state is very worrisome. Where are the great shoots in India? Which client cares to spend money on getting the finish, right? Which agency fights hard for signing up with a good photographer? Print campaign shoots are treated like commodities. I feel, brands make the mistake of putting all their eggs behind film shoots. If the same care were to be taken for print, Indian work would have won many more glories in the award shows. The reason why we get a lot of nominations and very few awards is the execution.
There is a certain sense of stylization in your work. Its almost like a signature. Where do you get your inspiration?
I don’t have one signature style. I do what is best for the brand. If the need of the hour is a clean, classy look, one works towards it. And if it’s a loud, retro feel, one does everything to achieve it. The connecting thread is the quality of effort. If it’s not world class, what’s the point?
On inspiration: Any object of design is an object of inspiration. If one stays connected to what’s happening around the world, you’re bound to be charged with many inspiring ideas.
Was there any time when you wanted to quit photography?
Yes. There was a time when I was getting a bit bored with doing the same old shoots for the same old clients in the same old way in good old Chennai. That is when I started 1pointsize.
Any current work in Indian Advertising that you find exciting? Especially Print?
A lot of work from Ogilvy Mumbai is good. Especially the Vodaphone work. On print, there’s been nothing particularly noteworthy. There’s been some stray good illustration based work for WWF. But I can’t think of any good print campaigns for big brands.
What’s your dream project?
Doing all the shoots for Mother London and W+K
You also run this creative ad agency called 1PointSize. Can you tell us something about it?
1pointsize is a very unique ad agency. I can’t think of any parallels in India. We are the only ad agency with strengths in photography, styling, graphic design, art direction, copywriting, screenwriting, cinematography and web designing. We’ve earned a lot of recognition for tiny, small and medium-sized brands. In terms of awards, we’ve bagged over 60 regional, national and international awards. Our work has made it to the D&AD Annual, Communications Art & Luerzer’s Archive. Till recently, we kept a decidedly low-profile and focused on clients we bagged by word of mouth. From this year, we’ll try and offer our brand of creative work to bigger brands.
Who would you want to spend a dinner with?
Clint Eastwood, Steve Jobs and may be Monica Bellucci.
Whats on your iPod?
Kings of Leon
Mac or PC?
How can you even equate the two? Mac, any day!
Sharad Haksar can be contacted via his website.