When we call him Sunday morning, he informs he has been whisked away by his friends without notice for breakfast; it doesn’t matter that he hardly got any rest the previous night while he was on copping duty. But that has been the case for nine years of Shiva’s life as a police officer in Bengaluru by night and an ardent and active photographer by day. “Honestly, we all have the time to do what we want. It depends on what we want to do with that time,” says the 39-year-old who is going places with his art—he features on the coveted list of lensmen at the upcoming Chennai Photo Biennale, has been invited to exhibit at the Belmont University in Nashville this September after which his photography tours Ohio and Zurich, and his works are currently on display in the Capital’s Art Heritage gallery alongside none other than the master, MF Husain. And he has already exhibited halfway across the world.

Shiva was born in Ramnagar, the famous Sholay town, so of course his life had to roll out dramatically. “I was born in a humble village to simple parents and had to work quite hard to get where I am (he could only study up till class 10, worked as a shop boy, salesman and ticket seller before putting on his uniform). I feel blessed to be in this job. I was 30 when I started volunteering at 1 ShanthiRoad Studio Gallery and that is when I discovered my passion for photography, I thought why not document things as I was always with people. Of course, there is no connection between policing and photography so I kept them separate, but we all have different aspects to ourselves and we must nurture each. I am glad that I have been able to get so many platforms for my pictures,” says Shiva, whose works float in the public domain, chronicling everyday life, people, portraits and streets—everything that defines his own life of protecting his people. He sees no connection there even as we see an important binding factor. 

“It was hard work but it never felt that hard because I completely enjoyed every moment of it,” says the cop with the cam. His advice—“Don’t let laziness get you…you can do a hundred things; it’s what you want to dedicate your life to, even if it begins with just two days a week. My Gandhi series started in 2010 and I’m still working on it—so some passions are ongoing and you have to be committed to them.” 

That’s not all. Shiva learned English only six months ago when he thought it was important for the international shows. “I went to class for three months and learned English,” he tells us even as we could’ve never guessed with that flawlessness of speech!

So next time you make a big fat excuse about not being able to nurture your creative streak, close your eyes and remember Shiva!