For those who knew Sheila Verghis, her decision to choose a course on photography in college back in the day didn’t come as a surprise. Growing up observing and being fascinated by vintage photographs, she has nurtured and stayed as passionate and curious about the art of making images as always.
Although Sheila couldn’t pursue photography soon after college, she hadn’t give up on the interest. And when a friend gave her a film camera, she began making pictures of her kids although she humbly admits today that she needed more technical know-how.
In her own words: “At that point in time, I just wanted to immortalize the actions of my little ones. But my interest in photography, combined with the enthusiasm of the explorer in me, slowly made my hobby graduate to a more serious pursuit, which manifested as a new-found visceral joy in capturing the various elements of nature.”
Over the years of travelling, and photographing what kindles her imagination, Sheila tells us that she has gained more clarity now, and nature and wildlife photography has all her heart for now. Sheila’s passion for travel is also fuelled by her outdoorsy husband, and most of the time, they travel together to various wildlife destinations.
“I like what the wild has to offer to my vision, and the fragrances of the forests make me feel like I am connected to myself at a very primitive level,” says Sheila. When the couple was trying to chalk out a new plan for a weekend about two-and-a-half years ago, they came across the Kabini Photo Tour organized by Toehold. “The articulate Toehold website helped us make an informed decision that day and our relationship with the company is only growing stronger ever since,” exclaims Sheila.
She continues: “Toehold Tours helped me sharpen my photography skills. The Skippers are outrageously fun and dedicated to their work at the same time and that makes leaning a pleasurable experience even when the formal sessions on photography are held. I have also attended the Basics of Photography Workshop and the range of topics that were covered over a weekend about an art form was bigger than I thought it could have been. As a result, today, I have come to enjoy my work more than I had in the past.”
Sheila has been to different parts of Africa on a road trip and the wildlife enthusiast in her has had a rewarding time there and also in the national parks and wilderness of India, including Corbett, Kaziranga, Ranthambhore and Valparai. Apart from the wildlife sightings that she excitedly talks about, Sheila explains, rather eloquently, about how she adores sunlight filtering through trees and scattering on the ground and how various smells of the forest intoxicate her.
“TV channel like Animal Planet, NGC and Discovery had made me wonder if such overwhelming diversity of wildlife was actually accessible to everyone with passion for them, but when I started going on Photo Tours, I was convinced it actually was, and it is such bliss,” says Sheila. In the near future, she would like to explore the possibilities that macro photography offers for a wildlife admirer, while capturing tiny life forms – insects and flowers – down to minute details.
“It amazes me how photography transcends from being a form of art to a powerful medium, through its various moods, that creates better understanding and awareness of the world around us,” asserts Sheila. We cannot help but concur when she continues to say how affecting a visual medium photography can be to realise the dream of an eventually more-peaceful world.