This week, I interviewed Jayanth Sharma, a wildlife photographer based in Bangalore, India. His website www.wildlifetimes.com is also a forum for people to discuss and spread awareness about wildlife, along with showcasing Jayanth’s photography and a place where he publishes his trip reports. From his website, “The aim of Wildlife Times apart from showcasing Wildlife Photography, sharing Trip Reports, triggering discussions on Conservation; is to promote Wildlife to the common man and make him understand the true meaning of Wildlife.” You can also find his photos on Flickr.
Read on to find more about Jayanth.
SU: Tell me a little more about yourself. How did you get into photography?
JS: I am from Mysore – a beautiful city in Karnataka, India. My father is an artist and commercial photographer who also ran a commercial studio apart from his regular job in the University during the 80s. He also conducted weekend courses during those days when I spent all my time playing games as a kid. The studio dark room was the best hideout during the hide-n-seek games and the studio was my playground at times. Though I was familiar to all the terms and equipments being used by him, I hadn’t really thought of the camera very seriously till I was twenty. I visited the Bandipur national park during 2001 and realized that I could utilize my father’s expertise, skills and knowledge to my benefit and also towards my niche area of natural history photography.
SU: What drew you towards wildlife photography?
JS: It was a gradual attraction towards nature that happened over years and the affordability of equipment which was required for Wildlife Photography. I also realized that I was now traveling in a direction where I couldn’t directly involve myself with wildlife conservation, but I could try using photography as a tool to convey messages to the world. So it was a sensible utilization of resources, knowledge, finance and passion.
SU: What is the idea behind wildlifetimes.com? How did it happen? Why a group format as opposed showcasing your images only?
JS: In 2006, I declared that I would no longer treat photography as just a hobby or an activity done at leisure. I decided to make time for it and I have a lot of plans with WLT. I chose a brand like WLT rather than a personal website because it was no longer about me and my photography. It was about a conservation awareness initiative. There’s still lot to do. But the perspective is getting clearer.
SU: What does photography mean to you?
JS: It is a wonderful medium to capture moments of nature that is treasured forever. It is also an important evidence to various glimpses of nature we photographers every day see. Wildlife Photography has two broad perspectives – Artistic vs Documentary. I try to document the characters and the drama they are a part of and when I stumble upon an opportunity to document the drama artistically, I make sure I try my best to milk the opportunity.
SU: You are a well known name in India when it comes to wildlife photography. How did you get here? How do you manage a photography career as well as one in IT?
JS: My actual audience is the common man. He is the one who has to understand what I am trying to showcase. In that context, I would think I haven’t found all the success yet. Instead of 10 photographers appreciating something I did, I’d love one common man to get inspired to do something to save this planet. That’s probably more satisfying.
IT vs photography is quite possible to a large extent. But on some day I will have to stop traveling on two boats at the same time and I see that happening soon. It is quite possible to be a serious amateur photographer and manage an alternative career. But if it is looked at a professional perspective, then reality bites hard and the ultimate choice has to be made. As far as how I got here – I just kept learning fast and never hesitated to make the right investment at the right time. I forgot to tell one important thing – A wildlife photographer has to get to the wild frequently and that I surely do without any hesitation though it costs quite a sum.
SU: Any recommendations? (Photo techniques, Photographers, Music, Books, quotes, food..anything?)
JS: I love Padmashree T.S Satyan, a pictorial photographer who is one of the few photographers who has been honored with the Padmashree title and is from Mysore, my native. He is quite old now and doesn’t fail to inspire me even after inspiring my father a few decades ago. I also look up to photographers like France Lanting and Andy Rouse who have a lot to teach. Not just photography but also how to present it to the audience.
These days, more and more youngsters are submitting themselves to the beauty of nature and some of them even do more than just clicking pictures. I strongly recommend newbies to the field to first spend time to learn about their subjects and also about their cameras. The rest will follow.
“When nature has some work to be done, she creates a genius”
SU: How can people interested in your work contact you?
Thanks Jayanth for sharing your thoughts.