The photographer

In his early childhood, there was a field behind his ancestral house and when the mustard bloomed, Shamim’s heart leaped with joy. He was trying his hand at painting and was highly inspired by this enigma of nature.

At the age of 10, a family friend gifted him a Zenith Russian SLR camera with a fixed 55mm lens. That was a bit too heavy for his little hands, but he developed an instant love for the lens. He went to a studio to buy a film and asked for help in loading it in the camera, the “photographer” in the studio mocked saying, he should start with a “Hot Shot” camera instead. He took time to learn to load the film and in the process  spoiled many films. But his determination to learn on his own started yielding result and within one year, he successfully took pictures of family members, flowers etc.  His passion kept growing and he literally slept with the lens. Soon, he was sought after by all relatives and friends to shoot their portraits. Many friends requested him to shoot weddings in their family as well.

At 14, he was quite popular in his home town as a budding photographer. Then a senior photographer was generous enough to introduce him to black and white photography and allowed him to join in the dark room for processing the film and printing on simple black and white paper. Shamim knew that the real art of photography lies in the old school black and white photography.

At 15, when he joined inter mediate (science) in Patna university, he started shooting with the same old Zenith camera on slide films (transparencies). In those days, the film was sent to Kathmandu for processing. Soon he, started getting petty assignments to shoot products for the packaging industry which partially funded his pocket money.

Between 15 to 21 years of age in his graduation days in Patna, he shot several commercial assignments including features for magazines. In 1990, his father seeing his passion and skill in photography gave him money to upgrade his equipments. He went to Kathmandu and bought Canon AE 1 Programme with a 50 mm. 1.4 lens, and another 35-70 zoom lens along with 70- 300 telephoto. He also set up his own dark room and started processing and printing black and white films. The self trained photographer had already carved his place amongst professionals in Patna.

In 1992, Shamim came to Delhi to pursue M.A,( sociology) in Jawahar Lal Nehru University in Delhi. His father, who was in Bihar state civil service, wanted him to be an officer, but he had “decided” to pursue photography as career. In JNU he met Sasmita (later his life partner) who encouraged his photography. Shamim started shooting for various magazines and within one year he had more than 200 by-lines to his credit.  He also started doing industrial photography and was shooting for Apollo tyres and Godrej etc… 

On a request from a hostel mate, who wanted to be a model, Shamim shot his profile in the beautiful ambience of JNU and the shot was appreciated by the fashion industry.  Then he, realized that fashion and glamour photography is not only quite interesting but was also well paying. By 1994, Shamim was gaining recognition as an all genre photographer who was shooting nature, product, industrial and fashion all with equal ease.

Destiny, again changed his course of life and due to family circumstances he had to write the UPSC civil service examination in 1995 , which he qualified and became an IAS ( Allied) officer.

His first posting was to the beautiful coral islands, Lakshadweep. The photographer in him instantly thought of doing a coffee table book.  Service rules do not permit commercial photography hence,he started concentrating on coffee table books, fine art photography and  solo photography exhibition.

When he returned to Delhi, Sasmita out of passion and also because of financial burden decided to run a photography firm/ advertising agency. She took a place on rent in Hauz Khas Village and her firm “Nishcam” (named after their daughter Nishka) was established.

Shamim trained several assistant photographers while he continued to shoot there for his own passion.

In 2006, their first coffee table book “ Floating Pearls in Arabian Sea- Lakshadweep” was unveiled in India Habitat Centre by Shri Wajahat Habibullah, the then Chief Information Commissioner, along with his first solo photography exhibition titled “ An odyssey with lens – from Lakshadweep to Ladakh via Dilli”.

The exhibition was so well received that it inspired him to do more. He usually never repeats his exhibit and always tries to create something new. Here is a list of his past exhibitions.

His Solo Photography Exhibitions

  • An Odyssey with Lens(from Lakshadweep to Ladakh via Delhi), Convention Foyer, IHC, 28th to 30th May 2007
  • Rode to Heaven: Ladakh, Convention Foyer, IHC,11th to 17th August 2008
  • Rode to Heaven and the past  at  Lokayata from 22nd to 28th August 2008 at Lokayata, Hauz Khas Village.
  • Oublieux (Forgotten Dilli), Dilli O Dilli Foyer, IHC, 1st to 30th November, 2008
  • Kailasa: a journey within, Convention Foyer, IHC, 8th to 12th Sept. 2009
  • One Fine Tuesday at Kailasa- Mansarover, organised by ICCR at Azad Bhavan, I. P. Estate, 30th April to 5th May 2010
  • “Through the third eye”- an exhibition of photographs taken over two decades at CSSS , JNU . December 2012
    ( this entire body of work was gifted to the JNU.)
  • Ladakh Hues, patronised by Nikon India,Experimental Art Gallery ,IHC, 8th to 16th Feb. 2013
  • “The Immortal Dilli”- an exhibition of assorted 20 photographs of medieval period of Dill’s monuments. July 2013, at India Islamic Cultural Centre , Lodhi Road , New Delhi.
     ( this entire body of work was gifted to the IICC)

Though , by now he is quite established nationally  ( accepted by ICCR, patronized by NIKON, endorsed by Honourable Dr. Karan Singh, Late Mr. Khuswant Singh, Mr. S. Paul and Mr. Rajiv Lochan ) and internationally ( he is working on a coffee table book on Re-Union Island, France), he considers himself a new comer even today and never stops learning.

Infra-red photography

Besides being recognized as an all genre photographer, another arena of Shamim’s passion in photography has been exploring infra-red photography. Though infra-red photography has been as old as photography itself, the difficulty in technique has been a deterrent for many senior photographers worldwide. Shamim has been experimenting with infra- red films since 1992 and almost after 12 years of continuous efforts, when finally he mastered the technique, the film era ended and he was highly disappointed.

That made the old school self trained photographer to look into the digital world. Only in 2006 after drinking deep he ventured into digital photography and as he processed his films earlier, he now processes his digital photographs himself.

Finally, he achieved perfection in digital infra-red photography as well. He exhibited some of his infra-red pictures of Delhi’s medieval monuments which was highly appreciated by the Grand Masters.

His latest body of work “Ladakh- Hues” , an assorted 20 infra-red pictures which was exhibited in the Experimental Art Gallery at IHC Delhi, left the industry speechless. Not only NIKON patronised his work but also Mr.S. Paul the legendry photographer was kind enough to endorse by saying  “…..this is the best body of work in infra-red photography that I have seen in India.”


In a way Shamim is a pioneer in infra-red photography in India and there are very few like him in the world.