OP Sharma (b. 1937)
As a pictorialist photographer and educator, OP Sharma is best known for his studio portraiture and for founding the Indian International Photographic Council (IIPC). He was also chiefly responsible for pushing to recognise August 19 as World Photography Day, a campaign he first started in 1991. The observance began within the IIPC, following which he expanded the idea by persuading international organisations such as the Photographic Society of America and the Royal Photographic Society of Great Britain to join in. Today, it is celebrated around the world.
Sharma was born and raised in Agra. His association with the arts began in Lucknow where – while pursuing his bachelor’s degree in science – he learned darkroom processing and printing and began taking classes in painting. With support from organisations such as the Lucknow Camera Club and established photographers such as AL Syed and PN Mehra, he continued to develop his interest in photography and decided to pursue it full time. In the late 1950s, he moved to New Delhi where he helped set up a photo unit at Modern School Barakhamba Road, mentoring its students in techniques such as bracketing, vignetting and spot printing. During this time, he also made portraits of several famous personalities at his studio, including Begum Akhtar, Bade Ghulam Ali, Faiz Ahmed Faiz, MF Husain and Rajiv Gandhi. His work was published in magazines such as Dharmayug and the Illustrated Weekly, as well as international magazines such as the Saturday Review. In the 1970s, he also worked as a still life photographer on Hindi films such as Do Boond Paani (1971), Chhupa Rustam (1973) and Shalimar (1978).
In 1980, he and his wife Chitrangada – also a noted photographer – set up the photography department at the Triveni Kala Sangam, New Delhi (TKS), where he began teaching photography classes three times a week. Three years later, he established the IIPC as a way to spread awareness about the art of photography. Over the course of his career, he has authored four books on the photographic practice of JN Unwalla, KG Maheshwari, TF Geti and AL Syed. A selection of his work was curated by Ram Rahman for exhibition at the United Art Fair, New Delhi in 2013.
At the time of writing, Sharma lives and works in New Delhi, where he continues to take photography classes at the TKS. The IIPC is now led by his son, Aseem Sharma, who is also a photographer.
Allana, Rahaab. “We have not paid adequate tribute to O.P. Sharma, one of our pioneering pictorialists.” The Hindu, August 19, 2020. https://www.thehindu.com/entertainment/art/experiment-and-experience-the-works-of-om-prakash-sharma/article32352820.ece
Gulati, Ambika. “The Big Picture.” Harmony — Celebrate Age, August, 2018. https://www.harmonyindia.org/etcetera_posts/the-big-picture-2/
Mutreja, Neha. “O P Sharma.” Better Photography, October 28, 2020.
Tripathi, Shailaja. “Lens and the man.” The Hindu, September 27, 2013. https://www.thehindu.com/features/friday-review/art/lens-and-the-man/article5175522.ece