Aniruddha J Sharma a.k.a AJ Sharma is a New York City based fashion, commercial and fine art photographer from Pondicherry, India. His work has been published in printed and online media in the US and abroad. AJ worked as a travel, lifestyle and fashion photographer for 6 years, shooting across the globe from megacities to remote uninhabited places.
In 2014 he had his first solo fine art gallery exhibition – Unwrapture. This body of work uses a dancer bound by seat belts to portray a narrative about urban angst and freedom. Soon after, MOD Institute Berlin featured his second body of work titled “Labour Narratives” as the photographic part of their international exhibition “Weltstadt” (Metropolis).
AJ lives in New York City and splits his time between commercial work, fine art, teaching and humanitarian projects.
1. Please tell us something about yourself.
I'm AJ Sharma, a commercial and fine art photographer based in Manhattan, New York City. I am known for my fashion work and my landscape and architectural imagery.
2. How did you get into entrepreneurship? Please tell us more about your journey as an entrepreneur?
I knew a long time ago that a regular 9-5 was probably not for me. I liked the flexibility of having my own schedule and working towards my own goals. Since I am a highly self-motivated individual, it made sense for me to try start my own company. I worked as a freelance photographer for many years, gaining experience, and assisting established photographers before going on to build my photography business from the ground up. AJ Photo NYC LLC is a culmination of years of effort toward creating a successful photography company.
3. Who are your role models?
I greatly admire self-starters and people who are true to their work and art. Highly motivated and passionate artists and entrepreneurs inspire me. In photography I am a huge admirer or Irving Penn and his work. The fact that he was a fashion photographer greatly influenced by his travel and humanitarian photography deeply resonates with me. Alexi Lubormirski is another photographer role model for his work and his Ethos. And I am a fan of Elon Musk's because he is such a smart disruptor and a beacon of hope towards progress.
4. Did you read any books that inspired or motivated you in your journey?
Bansksy’s Wall and Piece, Bjarke Ingles Yes is More, Home: A Hymn to the Planet and Humanity by Home Yann Arthus-Bertrand and Collected Poems by Sri Aurobindo.
5. Please tell us about your company.
AJ Photo NYC is a boutique photo and video services company in NYC. Along with The Studio by the Park it is a small and highly focused effort toward creating quality imagery.
6. What’s your most memorable experience as an entrepreneur?
It has been a dream of mine, ever since I became a professional photographer, to have a quiet little studio in a city filled with inspiration. With The Studio By The Park that dream has been realized. Located in Manhattan right next to the oasis that is Central Park, it is a simple yet well-equipped place for creativity and quality work. It is also a great base of operations to shoot the myriad options nearby like the lakes and waterfalls of Central Park North or the quintessential New York City streets and style.
Launching the studio was truly a memorable milestone.
7. Are you using any online marketing strategies for your company? How are you using different social media channels to market your company?
Instagram is a great tool to quickly showcase your work. But in a world where we are inundated and almost desensitized by a constant flood of images, my ethos is to create quality work rather than add to the onset of mediocre imagery. I may be idealistic, but I believe it is more about the quality of your work than how many Bots follow you.
As a company, we believe in constantly creating better work, building real relationships with our clients, and growing together.
8. What’s your greatest fear as an entrepreneur?
I am very wary of selling out. And as much as business and art have their separate requirements, I would not want to see my company work solely for profit at the cost of our values.
9. Looking back, what’s one thing you wish you understood about entrepreneurship before you ever got started?
Taxes. I feel it is important for every entrepreneur to have a working knowledge of current tax laws as the knowledge can be coupled with company policy to be highly advantageous.
Also, as an entrepreneur you work 80hrs a week for yourself to avoid working 40hrs a week for someone else!
10. Would you like to share any success secrets that helped you in your journey?
Finding mentors and assisting established professionals is a great booster to progress. Also finding the balance between being stubborn enough to defend your vision and smart enough to pivot when you need to, is vital.
11. What do you enjoy most about what you do?
My work takes me to places that I might never had access to otherwise. Whether it's shooting in restricted areas or getting up close and personal with the most fascinating people from all walks of life, I really feel that because of what I do, I get to live a little more.
12. What keeps you going when things get tough?
Persistence leads to success. Most people turn back when success is just around the corner.
13. How can people connect with you?
Through my website www.ajphotonewyork.com or @ajphotonyc on Instagram