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Ishaan Raghunandan is at his best in the midst of nature, clicking away and immortalising on film the beauty of the wildlife around him. He works in the field of wildlife conservation and rural documentary, where he uses his skills as a photographer to shed light on several causes including education, freedom and environmental protection.
How did you end up in such an offbeat, unconventional and cool career?
“I became a photographer by chance while studying engineering. It was in the 3rd year that I got a point and shoot camera, and by the end of college I was fixated with photography. Light and Life Academy in Ooty gave a head start to my career and I’ve never looked back.”, he says, describing how it all began. While doing his post- graduate diploma in Professional Photography from Light and Life Academy in Ooty, India, Ishaan specialized in travel and wildlife photography.
Ishaan attributes his inclination towards wildlife conservation and rural documentary to visits with his father as a child to rural India. “These experiences with the outdoors, both forest and village during my formative years definitely set the tone for the kind of photographer I would be.”
Can you talk about your work as a wildlife photographer?
He spends 3 months of his year shooting in the Amazon because of his collaboration with an organisation called Field Projects International (FPI). And yes, it’s as exciting as it sounds! “Working with FPI has been a dream come true. They have shown me what field science is. With FPI’s hands on attitude I have learnt a lot about methodology and implementation of field science.” Apart from the learning what it provides, Ishaan treasures this experience because of how much he enjoys being in the Amazon. “I have no words to express it. Complete immersion, the city is far away. The sight, sounds, smells will leave an impression on you.”
Can you tell us about the challenges?
Like any competitive field, Wildlife Photography has its own challenges. “It’s tough being your own boss. When I see photography scandals I feel let down. But mostly I never second guess my choice to be a photographer.” For Ishaan the lifestyle that this profession entails is what keeps him thrilled. In his words, “I’m hooked.”
What inspires you?
A true nature lover, Ishaan finds inspiration for his work everywhere. Explaining the idea behind his article ‘Spiders for Shutter bugs’ in the Hornbill Journal of the Bombay Natural History Society he says, “When I wrote the article, I had just returned from the field and was staying at my parent’s house. My mother maintains a very beautiful garden and I had just started to take an immense interest in spiders. I talk about a few species found in backyards in Bangalore, and the difficulties I had in photographing minuscule arthropods.”
His enthusiasm for photography extends to teaching the subject as well. Ishaan is actively involved in teaching photography in rural areas of Kachchh, and instructing courses on Tropical Field Biology in Peru. Not your ordinary photographer.
For Ishaan future plans include moving into camera trapping.
Parting with a few words of advice for others wanting to fulfil their dreams, he says, “Can’t give up. Make the best of any given opportunity.”