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Chat with Dhritiman

Why nature photography?

I have fond memories of my childhood; I spent those early days of my life like a free bird. Playing for long hours in fields, climbing and hanging from trees, swimming and mudding in nearby ponds and jumping into water from a height, were what I liked to do most. My parents were not persistent about my being the best student in class; rather, they wanted their son to be a free-spirited, good human-being. After I finished school, I started rock-climbing, trekking and mountaineering, and about five years later I was introduced to bird watching and started photographing birds. When it was time to be serious about my career, I realised I couldn't do a job which would take me away from the life I loved. I wanted to be amidst nature and planned to make nature photography my full-time profession.

 

What's the best part about it? 

Nature has never-ending surprises in store. Every day spent with nature teaches me something new in the field. The most thrilling part is that I'm in love with my work and never get bored or de-motivated as I am surrounded by nature's immense beauty. I enjoy this life thoroughly and it keeps me away from the complexities of the human world.

What's the worst part about it?

Nothing, except everyday financial constraints. Since nature photography is not self-sustaining in our country, till date, I struggle to be in the field for my work, which I do about 260 days a year. To upgrade my camera gear and buy under-water gear, I had to wait for an award.

What are your favourite species and places in India?

This is a difficult question to answer. All species and places have their own charm; I can't compare one with another. I've mostly worked in the Himalayas but I love the Western Ghats too. I love working in deserts, rainforests, mangrove ecosystems and alpine meadows; they're all very close to my heart. I love working on species which are less-photographed or not photographed at all.

What do you see as your most satisfying accomplishment so far in the field of photography?

Working in the field as long as I want to, being amidst nature and executing my dream frames are the most satisfying accomplishments for me. I feel humbled and blessed that I am living the life I desired.

What's in the bag of equipment ?

I have no equipment bias. I mostly use Nikon systems. The list is given below:

Camera:    Nikon D2Xs

                    Nikon D800E

                    Nikon D7000

                    Nikon D700

                    Nikon D7100

Lenses:     Nikon AF S17-35 f-2.8

                    Tokina 10-17

                    Nikon AF 24 mm F/2.8

                    Nikon AF 50 mm F/1.4

                    Nikon AF 150 mm F/2.8 VR ED macro

                    Nikon AF s 70-200mm F/2.8 VR ED 

                    Nikon AF s 400 mm F/2.8 ED II

Teleconverter: Nikon TC 20 E II Tele Converter

                          Nikon TC 17 E II Tele Converter

                          Nikon TC 14 E II Tele Converter

Tripod:        Gitzo 5540 LS

                    Wimberley Head

                    Arca Swiss Ball Head

                    Under Water Gear Ikelite Housing and Strobe System

 

What is your photography strategy before you take on an assignment and then in the field? 

I select my place of work or subject depending on how much that subject or place has been explored before. My only priority is that whatever I do either contributes to natural history or is so visually different that it can create an impact on the viewer. To do that, I try to collect all possible information available about them and then I study work that has already been done on them. I don't want to repeat anything. Then, on the basis of that information, I try to plan my frames. Sometimes, I draw it and then execute the plan. To me, my work is important; not money or fame. 

Your specialities and skills?

I think my speciality is that I am very cool about my work. There is no success or failure for me and I don't think of it as competitive work or expect any kind of return. This eases pressure on me and I derive pure enjoyment from my work. So, even if I need five attempts to see the Western Tragopan or seven attempts to spot a Brown Bear, all while trekking in difficult terrain in the Himalayas for more than 20 days each time, spending lot of a money and returning empty handed, I am neither depressed nor in any agony. I enjoy and learn. From that learning, I make my future plans. I think that is my strength.

3 tips for beginners:

Always keep yourself updated with others' work to know what has been done. Instead of trying to photograph a similar image, try something new. Don't repeat anything.

Realise that while making images, equipment is like a tool, just as a brush is in painting. At the end of the day, you have to create the image. So, instead of getting very involved in equipment, try to be inspired by natural history, learn to see subjects and light in a different way, and develop your imagination. These are the things which will help better your photography.

Always plan a photo. If you visit a place and depend only on what you get, it will never help you become a good photographer. Give yourself a project and finish it. You can start with an easy subject and try ways of executing the project. Then, slowly make your subject difficult, as you gain knowledge and experience from previous projects. 

What is the future for a nature photographer in India?

If we think of nature photography as a career option, it is extremely difficult. But if we talk about nature photography as a hobby, it will grow, as India has a unique natural heritage which will attract more people to nature photography.

Which is your best image and why?

I am still waiting for my best image. Honestly, to me, there are no best or worst images. I plan an image and after I get it, I might get bored after seeing it a few times. I always want to take a new one with new ideas and that is the force due to which I am still continuing with photography. When I get my best image, I will have nothing more to do and I will stop photographing. But if you ask me about memorable experiences in the field, I have many. 

Dhritiman

Dhritiman Mukherjee is one of India’s acclaimed wildlife photographers. He is a full time professional nature photographer. His exploits in the wild with a camera in tow are legendary. His patience at the waiting-game to create a gem of an image is unparalleled. At heart, he is a simple learner from nature and forever willing to share what he has learned. His work can be seen at www.dhritimanimages.com



supriyo
just keep it up emoticon
Posted on 9/27/13 2:18 PM.
vidhyadhar
no words to comment on you and on your work.
Posted on 9/27/13 6:42 PM.
Santanu
Excellent lesson from you.Take care. - Santanu Manna (Kolkata)
Posted on 9/27/13 8:56 PM.
Avijit
Dhritiman is a wonderful photographer who has made the journey of becoming the best in the business from way low down and he is one of the sharpest in the business. His commitment to his passion and his zeal for excellence is unparalleled in the country. His photographs are pure pleasure - a treat for the eyes.
Posted on 9/28/13 9:36 AM.
Suplab
One word... RESPECT....
Posted on 9/28/13 1:35 PM.
Ajith
Thanks for publishing this interview. The master has so much humility and the passion he exhibits in going after new images is inspiring.
Posted on 9/28/13 8:03 PM.
SUDEEPTO
As a childhood pal .. Only one word ..... "PASSION"
Posted on 9/29/13 1:20 AM.
vaibhav kamat
a green salute to Mr Dhritiman..... heads off dear friend .....

genius work in nature

all the best

ecologically yours

vaibhav kamat
C.O.O.
JUNGLE HOLIDAYS
Belgaum
Posted on 10/4/13 2:55 PM.
gurunath
Nice interview. An eye opener for beginners.
Posted on 10/26/13 5:21 PM.
suchindra
Posted on 11/5/13 11:50 AM.
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