Wildlife photography could be a lot more than a mere hobby

Wildlife photography could be a lot more than a mere hobby
SHUTTER BUG: A selfie by well-known professional wildlife photographer Dhritiman Mukherjee
Wildlife photography is one of the most fascinating outbound hobbies. It is a means of exploring interesting landscapes and species along with visitng interesting new places. Little wonder then that the field is attracting a lot of young people these days. Even though many wish to take it up as a fulltime profession, barely a few are able to make it a career. If you look around, you will see that not more than ten people in our country are fulltime wildlife photographers. These ten people too, are doing several other businesses to earn a sustainable livelihood. The trade may be linked to their photography career such as travel and tourism, teaching photography skills or writing on such subjects for the media. As a well-known Ranthambhore-based wildlife photographer, Aditya Singh, said, hardly five people earn around Rs 5 lakh a year.

Another respected wildlife photographer, Sachin Rai, says it could be possible that there is not even a single wildlife photographer in India who earns a living just by selling pictures of flora and fauna. People are forced to carry on several other things alongside to earn a decent living. He said many renowned wildlife photographers were running photography workshops or were engaged in other types of photography on the side. However, internationally too, the scenario is not too different and there, too, photographers have to struggle to enter the top league.

Actually, three reasons make it difficult for this kind of photography to be a fulltime occupation. First, you have to arm yourself with top of the line equipment, as you cannot afford to miss that one spectacular moment which may last for just a few seconds. Hence, the equipment needs to be functional in low light, shaky conditions, rugged terrain and rough weather.

Secondly, you have to travel to various areas for work that consumes time and resources, and not necessarily give you the desired result. Thirdly, availability of wildlife images for publication and printing is a problem. Often images are circulated free of cost by amateur photographers for whom it is more about earning fame rather than about monetary returns.

Recent trends show that IT people who earn good salaries from their jobs invest in hobbies like wildlife photography. These people are technically sound and possess the best equipment. The need to get away from their mundane desk jobs makes them travel to forest areas where they can pursue their hobby easily.

When I asked the same question to possibly the only fulltime wildlife photographer of the country, Dhritiman Mukherjee, he told me that he spends 300 days to pursue his career on the field. Mukherjee also accepted that he invests more than he earns in travelling and equipment. He sells his pictures to various national and international travel and wildlife magazines, calendars and stock photography among other sources. But he says it gives him more happiness and fulfillment when he gives away free photos for conservation initiatives. In Mukherjee’s words, “Staying in wildlife areas, photographing amazing animals and providing images to support conservation initiatives is the actual remuneration”.

So summing up from Mukherjee’s philosophy: if you are thinking of becoming a wildlife photographer, be ready to make your own roads. Instead of thinking what you can achieve from wildlife, think what can be achieved for wildlife!

(The writer is a conservation biologist at

Tiger Watch, Ranthambore)

Post new comment

E-mail ID will not be published
This question is for testing whether you are a human visitor and to prevent automated spam submissions.


  • The budget is sound in logic; the market is too clever by half

    For a man derided by former finance minister P Chidambaram for his knowledge of economics as only sufficient to be scribbled on the back of a postage


Stay informed on our latest news!


GV Nageswara Rao

MD & CEO, IDBI Federal Life

Timothy Moe

Goldman Sachs

Chander Mohan Sethi

CMD, Reckitt Benckiser India


Arun Nigavekar

Why higher education needs innovation

India is such a great country that it creates complexity ...

Zehra Naqvi

We must overcome the fear of death

It is the biggest irony that the only thing that’s ...

Dharmendra Khandal

Jawai leopards and locals can coexist peacefully

At first glance, the Jawai landscape seems like a large ...


William D. Green

Chairman & CEO, Accenture