His second year birthday cake was a tiger! That must’ve been a sign. For that small boy has now grown up to be a passionate wildlife photographer. Here’s the story of Abhiroop Ghosh Dastidar.
Abhiroop started using his father’s camera to make images on the bustling streets of Kolkata, while his uncle kept him busy with some inspiring stories of macaques of Bandipur and other South-Indian national parks. As he was becoming increasingly passionate about wildlife, fate brought him to Bengaluru for work in 2012. For the better.
In his own words, “I am not exactly a bibliophile but I read whatever I can about wildlife. After moving to Bengaluru, I have had the chance to pursue my passion for wildlife in the wild. I keep visiting Kabini and Bandipur quite often, along with various other national parks.”
He continues, “I was looking for a few lenses in 2013 and stumbled upon Toehold. Today, most of the translation of my imagination into tangible art has happened because of the lenses I get to hire from Toehold, and I still don’t own a lot of lenses as I know I can hire them.”
Abhiroop has visited Ranthambhore and Kanha, too. While he has loved tiger sightings there, which many wildlife enthusiasts long for, Abhiroop gleefully claims how his primary interest took shape during his visits to Bandipur. He loves watching monkeys in their natural habitat and learning more about their behaviour keenly, and has been doing just that for the past two years.
He asserts, “I have been testing my own creativity while understanding a camera and the subject before it. I don’t want to get carried away by the mere presence of an exotic species. Even if I am smitten, I want to keep my senses awake to the finer details of its existence. And almost all the equipment I have has helped me understand wildlife better than anything else. Both these interests have been my constant companions.”
Abhiroop tells us how understanding even one species thoroughly can take an entire lifetime, which is why he wants to see a constant growth in one genre of photography – wildlife. “The fact that this learning curve has no end gives me goosebumps! And when one is a regular at the national parks, the stories he/she gets to hear from the guards and naturalists are also very exciting. I want to explore macro wildlife photography in places like Agumbe in the near future,” he exclaims.
Abhiroop believes in doing thorough research to understand his subjects before photographing them, so that his interest is fully developed from an embryonic stage to a mature, composed, sincere passion rather than hollow exhibitionism. And for being able to do what he likes apart from his job, he thanks his parents who took him to all the major national parks when he was small.
Through his peregrinations, Abhiroop has also realised how important it is to understand the people who live in and around such destinations, as it gives a wildlife enthusiast an even more realised insight into their own passion. He travels by local buses, has a lot of conversations with the locals at different places, meets strangers and eventually gets acquainted with them… “All this makes me want to believe that I can survive anywhere in the world; it’s the sort of freedom that only travel can bring,” he says calmly.
Abhiroop tells us how the natural history photographers at Toehold help him with answers to any technical queries he has, although he’s been a rentals client. He says he appreciates the immense patience that every expert has, and how their answers are always to-the-point and never animated. He says he can call up anyone and ask a question even when he is not hiring any equipment and that makes him come back to Toehold time and again.
When asked what this art form means to him, Abhiroop says, “Photography, to me, is a medium through which I can judge my own creative flair, and a medium that never judges me back but gives me joy and contentment and an intrinsic inspiration to create more.”
He wishes to visit Africa sometime soon, and also wants to make it to the Everest Base Camp, and we wish him the best, always.