Strong graphic imagery, vibrant colors, and calculated compositions define the photographic works of Riya Sharma, a professional travel and street photographer. With the ability to portray a wide range of subject matter, from expressionistic portraits to capturing spontaneous moments, Sharma’s photographs reflect the effects of poverty and social inequality in India. What makes her photos so unique is her inane ability to forge a connection between her subjects and her viewers. Sharma’s main artistic goal is “working toward taking the perfect picture – that combination of technique, style, and impact that still draws people to look at an image years or decades later.”
Through Sharma’s photographs, the viewer sees the truth in humanity. The photographer believes that her photos show the facts of reality that many people do not see every day because they are so busy running around all the time. She captures the lifestyles of different groups of people in their realist forms. “I personally believe a perfect photo consists of the best example of cultural and social moments,” says Sharma.
A graduate of the New York Institute of Photography, Sharma has had her photographs featured twice in the Divya Bhaskar Newspaper in India and was nominated for Outstanding Achievement in the Arts at the 2016 Asian Awards in London. She is also an official photographer for PhotoWorld Magazine.
But there is more to Riya Sharma than meets the eye, and her goals and dreams for her work go above and beyond. We had the chance to learn more about Riya and her work, and we can’t wait for you to read on!
How did you get interested in photography?
My dad bought me a camera back in 2000, and I have been crazy about photography ever since! When I first started, I took photos of my friends, family, and surroundings; I soon realized that they were not simply photos, they were the reflection of my eyes! The same way that I use my eyes to see the world, I use my camera to capture it.
I started small, with a simple camera, and my photography got better over time. People were interested in including my work in photography exhibitions and magazines. It wasn’t until I was recommended by someone to be part of the photography exhibition, “Photography Now,“ at the Brick Lane Gallery in London in 2016 that I actually presented my work internationally for the first time.
What do you aim to convey through your photographs?
I want the viewer to see what I see in the works. The key points I wish to show the viewer are my vision and my exploration of India through images. I want to take photos that are moving, compelling, and powerful. I write captions underneath some photos, which may reflect on a memory, a message or a random thought that I had regarding the image. A lot of people who follow me message me saying that I have somehow inspired them or made their day. I aim to connect on a deeper level than social media, and my loving followers have helped me accomplish my goals.
Do you have any particular subjects that you prefer to photograph?
My photography revolves around people, Indian culture, and Indian traditions.
How would you describe your photographic style?
I like to photograph things that “wow” me, whether it be a sublime landscape or somebody interesting and inspiring that I’ve spoken to. My style is quite traditional in the sense that I don’t heavily edit my images in post-production. I prefer to try and take striking, high-quality imagery there and then so that it doesn’t require much work in Photoshop afterwards. I want what I see with my eyes to directly transcend to what people see in my photographs.
What type of equipment do you use?
For my image exploration, I like to use a full frame camera with a prime wide-angle lens, such as the Canon EOS 5D Mark III combined with a 24mm lens. I find that these two together in particular create beautifully crisp shots and never fail to deliver! I also use a Canon 70D camera. As for the lens, I mostly use the Canon EF 50mm f/1.8 II, Canon EF-S 18-135mm f/3.5-5.6 IS Lens and Tamron SP AF70-300mm F/4-5.6.
What would be your dream destination to photograph?
My dream destination is without doubt the Kashmir “Paradise on Earth!” Jammu and Kashmir is undoubtedly an extremely beautiful sight in India, and is often identified as “Heaven on Earth.” This is surely the most enlightened holiday destination in the world and I’d love to see and witness the magnificent glaciers before it’s too late! It’s an extremely extensive expedition both financially and geographically as it’s not somewhere you can really just “pop over to” but I’ve promised myself that I will make it there one day in the future…and I never break a promise!
How do you educate yourself to take better photos?
I’m never afraid to ask for help, and I don’t think anyone should ever be ashamed to! If I see another photographer using a technique that I’d love to try then I’ll normally ask them how they’ve achieved it, and I’ll always try and reciprocate by giving any advice where I can. I feel there are always new things to learn in photography. Even the best of the best have the scope for improvement, so it’s great when we can all help each other out.
Whose work has influenced you the most?
There isn’t anyone in particular; I have studied photography all on my own. Often, I am inspired by many people’s photography on social media, but because I am a writer as well, I can also create scenarios in my head and add my thoughts into a photograph to give it meaning.
I also have a huge imagination, so some photos reflect the dreamy side of me. I don’t normally set out with a specific subject in mind that I want to photograph. The most planning I’ll do is when and where I’ll shoot, but I normally just let the location inspire me on the day; my camera does the rest!
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