Wildlife photography could be a lot more than a mere hobby
Dec 04 2013
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)