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Shoot to thrill

education Updated: Nov 03, 2011 17:15 IST

The lowdown
A tiger closing in on its prey, a peacock lazily unfurling its colourful feathers... The mission of a wildlife photographer is to capture and shoot animals in their natural habitat... with a camera. It’s a profession that requires love for the wildlife, nature, interest in conservation, along with in-depth knowledge of one’s subjects. Constant upgradation of photography skills is a must. Satisfaction comes from getting that elusive shot printed in magazines/displayed at exhibitions for wildlife lovers to admire

Clock Work
3.30am: Wake up, have a cup of tea and start trek
4am: Reach the researched site, set up camouflage and equipment
4.30am - 8.30am: Start shooting as animals and birds make fleeting appearances
9am: Breakfast
9.30am: Manage a few more shots before light gets too strong
11am: Retire to camp, empty memory cards
12pm: Hike to nearby resort to send shots to the magazine editor
3pm: Meet forest officials/ guides to check for animal movement
4pm: Do some research for the next day’s shoot
5pm: Grab some more shots before it gets dark
8pm: Retire to camp, have dinner and sleep

The payoff
At the outset, you should work independently and do as much work as possible. Then, share the work with newspapers, magazines, or NGOs that work for animal rights. You can also host exhibitions and enter photography contests. The objective is to get your work noticed. Your photographs can also be used for greeting cards and calendars, or you can even get posters made. Income at this level is around Rs5,000 to Rs10,000 a month, depending on one’s talents. An established wildlife photographer reports earnings of Rs30,000 to Rs5 lakh a month. A photographer may also undertake freelance assignments

Skills/TRAITS
.
Extreme patience
. Presence of mind
. Strong communication skills
. Deep respect for nature in all its forms
. A naturalist’s sensitivity
. Ability to blend in and maintain silence

Getting there
There’s no one way to get to be a wildlife photographer. You can start as soon as you can lay your hands on a camera. Beginners can start observing their surroundings first and photograph the commonly occuring native species. At this stage, a professional camera is not required. To be a good photographer, it is essential that you love animals. You can join a basic photography course and gain knowledge from there. A lot of information is available about animal behaviour on the Internet and you should studiously seek this out. Also, make it a point to visit the nearest zoo to get an idea of how animals behave, time at which they are most active etc

Institutes and URLs
.
National Institute of Design, Ahmedabad - www.nid.edu
. Fergusson College, Pune - www.fergusson.edu
. Canon Education Portal - www.usa.canon.com
. www.wildlifephoto.net/articles/started.html

Pros and cons
.
You get to travel a lot
. You have less time for family and friends
. Freedom to operate independently
. Exposure to danger
. Contributing to saving the creature you love
. No steady income
. Sustaining yourself financially could be difficult