Have you ever been blown away looking at the work of a photographer? Well, I have. I was blown away when I saw an image of an Albino Cobra on a hill somewhere in Tumkur, staring at something, under the sky on a rock. That moment I felt the passion the photographer has for his work. I could imagine the skill and patience that was required for that image and I could stop myself from getting in touch with him.
The photographer behind the image is Uday Hegde from Sirsi. It’s evident once we start looking through his work; Uday has a flair for capturing wildlife in its most natural, passing moments.
I’m excited to share an interview with Uday chatting all about his experiences.
Tell us a little about yourself and why you like capturing wildlife.
I am an SAP Technical Architect by profession. I’m from a small village called Sirsi, North Canara District, Karnataka. I’m married and have a 9-year-old son. I was lucky to have been born amid the natural beauty of the Western Ghats as I always wanted to capture the beauty of nature the way I see it. And it was just 10 years back that I finally got that chance.
What got you started in wildlife photography?
My dad was passionate about going for long bike rides and when I was old enough he used to take me along with him whenever he goes for his motorcycle rides to nearby waterfalls and hills. It was these trips that brought me closer to nature and its beings. I was fascinated by the animals and insects that I got to see during these trips. At the age of 9, I used to take wild shots using my dad’s old camera without knowing the perfect angle. The same got me so interested that it became my dream to buy a camera for myself when I grow up.
What gear do you recommend for photographing wildlife?
I use Canon but I believe that cameras are just the medium to capture what is in your mind. I have seen people creating brilliant images even using mobile cameras. So the gear doesn’t matter.
What do you believe makes your images successful?
A Photographer’s success is when he /she can capture the essence of what he/she has seen and translate the same experience to his/her viewers. I try my best to make that happen.
Is there one animal you will photograph happily again and again?
Pit vipers. They are one of the most beautiful and serene creatures that I can’t let go of a chance to shoot (click) them.
How long do you typically wait for your shots and how difficult or easy it is to wait?
Photography is not for the impatient ones. There are 2 types of shots the first being accidental shots and the other being the planned shots. In the first one, you are simply there at the right place at the right moment and in the next one, you know that you want a particular shot and wait for it no matter how many hours it takes. I had to wait for hours or sometimes days together to get those perfect planned shots.
Which is your best shot?
It is very difficult to pinpoint which is my best one because I believe it has not happened yet. No photographer can ever say that they have got their best shot as they would be searching always for the next best one.
Was there ever a moment you thought you were too close to the action?
It is not unusual for a wildlife photographer to be close to the action but in my case, I never knowingly put myself and the members whom I’m with, in any danger as I ensure that we follow the rules.
Do you think wildlife photography affects conservation?
Yes, I believe so. Through my photos, I want to show the world that there is immense beauty all around you if you choose to see it. Conserve and Preserve this for yourself
Are there any particular experiences you would recommend?
I would recommend people to visit places like a traveler rather than as a tourist. Unless you become one, you will not be able to feel and experience the real beauty of that place.
Is there one specific destination you could suggest photographers visit?
As a photographer, it pains me to see the beauty of nature being violated and destroyed by several selves proclaimed wildlife photographers. I do not particularly want to mention any location as I believe “beauty lies in the eyes of the beholder”. Look around, you can see it all around you.
What is the impact wildlife photography has on the local community?
Wildlife photography promotes eco-tourism and creates awareness of wildlife and insects. It can thereby create jobs for the local community as well.
Can you mention some basic traits of being a wildlife photographer?
Wildlife photography is also an art. As with any artist, the photographer needs to understand the specifics of his subject. An unprepared artist is bound to fail as with a wildlife photographer.
What makes animals so special for you and can you please mention any special moment with them?
I always believe that no animals would attack you unless they are threatened or in a dire situation. Those natures of theirs differentiate them from us human beings. A couple of years back, my friend Dr. Yashaswi was walking in a forest road near Kuduremukh and saw a mating pair of green vine snake. We did not want to disturb them so we just walked further. On the way back we saw that one of the snakes was run over by a vehicle and died but its partner still stayed next to the body and did not allow anyone to go nearby. We watched that grieving for almost 2 hours and then forcefully moved both the snakes away from the road and other people. This incident touched me too deeply and is one of the reasons which make animals so special for me.
We haven’t seen many women wildlife photographers, what do you think is the reason?
I don’t think there is any gender bias in this profession or any profession for that matter. It is the norms of the society which pulls us back from following our passions or hobbies. I’m happily married and take extensive trips for photography and my family supports it. Do not let societal norms influence the way you live. In a relationship both the parties have to have space for themselves and the right to follow their dreams and passions.
Do you think photography can change the attitude towards endangered species?
Yes, I believe wildlife photography can change the attitude of people towards all the species. Our generation needs to understand that every being has the right to live and can live harmoniously if given a chance.
Which photographer has been the greatest influence on you? What sets them apart for you?
There is not one specific photographer who has influenced me but several. Each of them has their specific techniques which I have tried to learn and apply. I believe Photographing is as unique as fingerprints. Each one develops their styles which is difficult for anyone to replicate.
Have you ever tried formal photography? If yes what is the difference?
What is your idea of happiness?
I’m happiest in the heart of nature. Hence the numerous trips to any place of natural beauty When I get some time.
What kind of a person is Uday?
I’m a free-spirited and straightforward person who loves simple things in life.
What do you consider your greatest achievement?
Being able to afford the costliest pieces of equipment for photography.
Where would you like to live?
A house in the deep heart of a forest.
What do you most appreciate in your friends?
Honesty and straightforwardness.
Your Real-life heroes?
My Mom who taught me that even the smallest insect has the right to live and my dad who taught me to be independent and self-sufficient and my wife who taught me how to have a balanced life.
What is love?
Love is about respect. Without respect, you cannot love any other beings/things around you.