Passion and satisfaction go hand in hand and without them, any happiness is temporary! I understood this pretty early in the life but as they say, it takes more than just a thought to achieve a career of your dreams. It has never been an easy journey till date but my perseverance and the voice within kept me going, chasing my aspirations.
How it all started
Growing up in an Indian middle class family is no less than a roller coaster ride as you are given wings to fly but a horizon is defined. One can choose a profession only out of the listed few, as the rationale is to perhaps be able to support your living in the long run, in a country, brimming with population and hope. India is a developing nation with a huge pool of talent and an inverse man to job ratio, but that’s a story for some other time. My inclination and curiosity towards wildlife was increasing with each passing day and my parents were one of the many reasons for this. Their dynamic upbringing gave me the courage to think beyond conventions, but as time passed I was getting so engrossed in the subject that they became apprehensive of me deviating from my studies. I will still consider myself to be fortunate as their cognitive thinking and encouragement helped me in paving my future path. I remember, it was challenging to maintain a balance between regular school and zoo visits and many a times I bunked school for animal watching. My parents despite being educationists were supportive enough to let me follow my passion. Infact, my father played a very crucial role in my present thought process as he would always encourage me to give the best shot in the chosen area. It’s only with their faith that I could achieve my goals and am still striving to conquer new frontiers.
My fascination and admiration for wildlife grew slowly and steadily, over the years it engulfed me in its ambit and became a penchant while intriguing my inner self to know more. Initially, it was only the zoo visits and local sighting of the wild but later in my teens, I got introduced to the safaris by our forest department. In those days, they would conduct safaris for the tourists inside jungles in a closed bus only once in a while, so the option to hop on the bus at your convenience was slim and the exciting norturnal animals ventured out only in the night hence, convincing parents for night safari was another arduous task, but as they say, sometimes challenges act as catalyst in strengthening the desires and overcoming them.
Barriers that came my way
Apprehensions for taking it up as a full time profession
We are living in a 21 st century or have rather passed through a quarter of it but still the pressure of following the set precedents of the society is paramount, this refrains most of us in pursuing our passion and hobby as a career. I had to put in double efforts to sustain my first love and had to prove myself academically fit more than often. It was only after completing my degree in pediatrics that I could again focus on wildlife. A degree in a celebrated profession gives you a certain freedom. Now as I look back I can’t emphasize enough to the young crowd of the importance of academics before venturing into this field. I would not have done it any differently if given a choice !
Wildlife photography demands a huge investment in terms of time, efforts and above all, funds. The equipment required are far more expensive and need frequent update. My first device was a Kodak reel camera which has become obsolete now. With time and money, I moved on to Sony digital camera and keep improvising it for it influences the picture quality
Sustainable Career option as the avenues are limited
Wildlife photography is surrounded with a lot of unpredictability, its a niche area and a job market with limited avenues. There are very few players such as Nat geo and Animal planet to be associated with, so most of the photographer s work as freelancers with fluctuating demands. I restarted thinking about Jungle Arc only when I saved enough and also at this point I enjoyed dual careers.
Everyday perishing wildlife is posing a serious threat not only to our environment but also to the people attached to it. The natural habitats are fast moving towards extinction so experts are searching them in remote jungles which are full of danger with scarce opportunities. It took me three years to sight a tiger in the wild and it was in a national park.
When things started moving my way
Nothing changed overnight, it took countless sleepless nights, double working shifts and heaps of positivity and optimism to get going in harshest of times. Becoming a medical practitioner is not a cake walk and for a person who is harboring two dreams simultaneously, it became all the more strained with the immense tension of breaking every now and then but what always held me up was the silver lining I knew existed but was not clear yet. Since my entire childhood went around observing animals, I had developed a field craft skill and utilized it in capturing my pictures. The other task was honing my photography skills. I kept brushing them with various trainings and practice sessions. All I can say is that when it comes to your passion, learning becomes natural adaptations only with seamless acquisitions.
Self preparation was just the first step, the herculean math was to devise a platform to connect with fellow tribes and to voice out my stories to the people. I wanted to speak about the cause that was too close to my heart. Finally, after 5 years of hard work, Jungle Arc came into existence.