It all started with the cameras his relatives used to carry when they all gathered in his hometown on special occasions. And this was a prelude to his tryst with photography that’s been only going strong even today.
Mr. Hymakar Valluru is a man who has loved travelling since his childhood days. And after he got married to Hiran, who also loves travelling, he has been wandering around the world with a purpose of beholding and preserving its beauty.
He says: “My wife and I used to drive over to hill stations, forests, beaches or temples over the weekends. I started clicking images for preserving these moments since the year 2000, when I bought my first Olympus point-and-shoot roll camera with auto exposure. In 2003, I upgraded to a Nikon Coolpix and was very excited because it was my first digital camera. In 2007, I bought a Kodak camera, which is one of my favourite point-and-shoots.
“In 2011, when we planned a holiday to Singapore, all my cameras seemed to have one or the other issue at the time, and I decided to pick up a good high quality camera. For the first time, I was introduced to the raw format and was very excited to pick up my first DSLR – a Canon 1100D with 18-55 mm and 50mm lenses.”
After attending a photography class and understanding the basics of photography using a DSLR, Hymakar applied all the theory he had learned into practice in Singapore. When he realised that he did not have enough camera equipment, especially to make the images of birds at the Jurong Bird Park, he decided to invest in various camera gear that would match his passion for photography.
When asked about his favourite genres of photography and destinations, Mr. Valluru explains: “From the beginning, I have loved making images of wildlife and landscapes. I actually started making images of birds to begin with, when I visited the JLR River Tern Lodge. Identifying various species of birds and ticking them off in my birding guide was an irresistibly special interest.
“I have many favourite destinations, including Nagarhole, Kabini, and Corbett, which happens to be my favourite national park in India. Ladakh is my favourite place for landscape photography. Svalbard is a place I want to visit every year, and the Pantanal has so much to offer apart from the elusive jaguars, especially in terms of amazing birdlife. Clicking pictures of gorillas in Rwanda is an experience of a lifetime. Of the lot of places I love to frequent, the best blend, to me, is offered by Kenya.”
Mr. Valluru first learned of Toehold from fellow wildlife enthusiasts. He then started following the Skippers’ posts on Facebook and was amazed by the quality of their images. And once he began travelling with Toehold, he exclaims that his perspective and quality of composition and capturing images changed for the better.
Hymakar explains: “One thing I have learnt in the recent times is that I need to click fewer pictures and concentrate more on quality than quantity – like optimising the burst mode – and practising shifting between the modes, moving focus points, and using continuous focus. Experimenting with and adapting to the changing light, weather and external conditions, and making panned images are the other things I am currently focussing on.”
Travel and photography mean not only loads of fun to Hymakar, but also doing what he is very passionate about. Taking a break to travel gives him a sense adventure, and making a good image, a sense of accomplishment and happiness. He feels especially so when he gets to photograph endangered species that are unique in terms of natural history, because he feels like he is contributing to wildlife at large by taking a picture as a record for references, like a long-tailed duck that he got to see in Pangong Tso Lake.
Mr. Valluru, a man of many interests, also wants to pursue fashion and architectural photography in the near future.
Hymakar’s definition of photography celebrates its own simplicity: to make an image is to create a record of beautiful experiences and memories and also contribute to the environment around oneself through those records at the right time.
We wish that he gets more opportunities in the future to do just that.