Publication: The Times Of India Mumbai; Date: Dec 20, 2011; Section: Education Times; Page: 44
Snapshots in the wild
Giving up a high salaried conventional career in civil services, Aditya Singh followed his heart to become a wildlife photographer. Seema Khinnavar trails his journey
Winner of this year’s Sanctuary Call of the Wild Photography Award, Aditya Singh, is a true case of following one’s heart. Like every ‘good’ student, Singh was readying himself for a steady income job in the civil services. However, he soon realised that civil services was not his true calling and moved to Ranthambhore to set up a tourism business. He talks about his passion for wildlife photography.
How was the transition from engineering to civil service to wildlife photography?
While studying for civil service exam, I did not really know what I wanted to do in life. I cleared the exams and even completed my training. However, I soon quit and moved to Ranthambhore to practice my hobby of wildlife photography. What started of as a hobby became a serious passion and I am now trying hard to turn it into a profession.
What is the scope of a career in wildlife photography?
Wildlife photography on its own does not offer many career opportunities. There are less than 20 professional wildlife photographers in the world. However, spin offs of wildlife photography is becoming big business all over, even in India. These include business of running photography workshops, photo safaris and so on. One has to keep in mind that wildlife photography is a specialisation in the larger field of photography. There are lots of career opportunities in photography and they are growing.
Photographic skills apart, what other qualities that wildlife photographer should have? Is there a specific course for wildlife photography?
You have to be a naturalist to be a wildlife photographer. If you do not know the subject (wildlife in this case) then chances are that you will never become a decent wildlife photographer. You also need to be very patient. Success will not come overnight and it may take years to get a decent portfolio of wildlife images. There are lots of courses for photography but sadly none for wildlife photography in India. Most wildlife photographers all over the world are self taught.
What kind of assignments can students interested in wildlife photography take up?
Lately many Indian media publications are offering
paid assignments for wildlife photographers. However, most of the times one is shooting stock images that may or may not be published. One usually gives these stock images to image libraries for sale and gets paid as and when they sell.
What advice would you give to those who want to pursue wildlife photography seriously?
Learn the technical part of photography, which I think is the east part, before you even head to the field. Keep at it and keep experimenting. It takes a long time to get good. And yes it is very expensive so get a budget together.
What are you working on currently?
I do a lot of work as a field assistant for documentary film makers and right now am working on three such projects. These documentaries will soon be broadcasted on National Geographic, BBC, Discovery and Animal Planet. I am also working on building up my photo base of Ranthambhore, something that I have been doing for a decade.
Does tiger tourism really help in the conservation of the forest or is it a mere nuisance for the animals?
Yes. Whether we admit it or not wildlife tourism is the most potent conservation tool in India. See the tiger population. It has stayed stable in the popular tiger parks for over two decades, while tigers were getting decimated in the lesser known reserves. The popular tourist parks are saturated with tigers and have stayed that way for over two decades while the increase in numbers could not be absorbed by adjoining forests where tourists do not go. Tourism all over the world is seen as a potent conservation tool while in India it is seen as a menace. I find it surprising that something that works all over the world fails to do so in India. There must be something wrong in our policy for that to happen.
Aditya Singh’s award winning picture of a confrontation between a mother sloth bear and a tiger