I remember one very hot summer driving past the Old Woodlands drive-in restaurant [good God those masala dosas were good weren’t they when that place was hummin’?] and I saw a rather curious advertisement on the road. It was an image of a Badminton shuttlecock with a condom on the cork end of it. I can’t quite remember the tag line but man did that image stick in my head. Obviously it was a progressive, pro-active public service message. But unlike the ubiquitous Nirodh or family planning advertisements that one can see on many an unwelcome compound wall in Chennai, this advertisement was self-financed by Sharad Haksar, a Chennai-based commercial photographer.
A mutual friend, Keshav Prakash (an exquisite cinematographer), reintroduced me to Sharad which was how I came to know about the advertisement being his creation. I haven’t been in touch with Sharad recently but I know he and his business has been booming; mostly due to his interesting and off-beat perspective on things.
Now Popular Photography has announced the Photographer of the Year award and Sharad is in the running for the top spot. In fact, out of thousands of applicants, he has made it into the top-ten. That’s quite a feat.
Sharad’s entries can be seen here. I wouldn’t urge you to vote for him if I didn’t think his work was up to snuff [to vote for him please click the link and then click the radio button next to photographer number 9]. The fact is Sharad’s innovative and creative thinking on a slew of campaigns has deservedly brought him fame. It has also placed Chennai (Madras to most of us) on the map for extremely high quality commerical photography.
The deadline to vote is May 31. The winning photographer receives a plane ticket to NYC and $5000 prize to be presumably spent on a project of the photographer’s choice.