By Rohit Varma
Passion, hobbies or interests – most of us have one or the other. What’s important is if we’re doing something with our interests and hobbies. I was a regular bloke and like most people, I went about leading my life in a fairly formulaic manner – grew in a small town, moved to Bangalore to in search of greener pastures, found a job, climbed the corporate ladder and convinced myself I was happy. I happened to connect with nature and wildlife photography on a random trip into the wild, 9 years ago. Today it’s my passion, my first love and my bread and butter.
I believe it’s important to find a passion; it gives us drive, direction and the need to plan our time and lives. Doing something you love and enjoy brings about a calm, immense peace and happiness and most importantly, a sense of purpose.
My initial years of wildlife photography was directionless. I was just clicking images and sharing them on social media platforms. Felt good whenever people liked or commented. Like anybody I was also chasing big cats and was ignoring rest of the species. Luck doesn’t favor you always, I recall going to forest more than 12 times in a year, would have done more than 40 odd safaris and not getting single big cat image. It was very disappointing and I thought I should drop this hobby. That’s when I started reading, knowing more and more species and capturing them. The whole world for me got changed. It was now all about making some good images when I was in the forest. My focus was not on big cats now but it was on making good and interesting images.
I decided to share my work under creative common so people could see, use and fall in love with nature. Most of my images are used by nonprofit and for-profit organisations. I don’t differentiate. They give me credit and I am happy with that. There are people who reach out to buy prints also.
But I needed to do a lot more than just shooting and sharing images. I needed my passion to make a difference.
In 2014, a friend and I decided to start Nature inFocus, a nature and wildlife festival. The objective was to provide a platform for nature and wildlife enthusiasts be it, photographers, naturalists or conservationists to share their work. We even introduced photography awards and launched a portal to share an immersive and engaging story about all things nature and wildlife in India.
Today, I can proudly say that Nature inFocus is a best-of-breed portal focused on Indian wildlife and wilderness and powered by the community.
I took some time to find my purpose. Unfortunately, for what nature has to offer us, it gets a surprisingly low mindshare compared to other areas of interests. I wanted to get increase the mindshare of nature and wildlife with people, get them to see, learn and experience nature and as a result put in effort in conserving it also.
What’s heartening is that the current generation is aware and concerned about nature and wildlife and it reflects in their actions too. This needs to be replicated across generations, in tourism and travel and people need to understand that the survival of nature and wildlife is inextricably linked to choices we make in our daily lives. If you don’t experience this first hand, you won’t appreciate what you have been gifted in the form of natural beauty and resources. And neither will you work tirelessly to protect it!
Being in the wild is like a homecoming. I feel fresh, happy, peaceful and also my mind is clutter free. I document what I see and experience and I love sharing it with the world. I put in an effort to learn more about nature and wildlife and I’d love for you to do the same.
So if you are getting into nature and wildlife photography, few things are important:
- Read: Get to know more about animals and their behavior.
- Observe: When you are in the forest, keep your eyes and ears open and observe the behavior
- Creativity: It is not about just capturing but how do make interesting, story-telling images
- Technical knowledge: One needs to know his/her gear and so spend time and learn about your gear.
- Your Style: Develop your style of photography