What bliss is that, to be able to grow up watching changing art on the walls of one’s own home? And what kismet is that, to be able to imbibe art and make it one’s second nature?
Well, that’s what Toehold patron Rajiv Ramanathan did, and this is his story: a story in which an interest grows and grows only to become a passionate soulsong.
Mr Ramanathan’s father, a keen travel photographer who, with his rangefinders, would capture the world as he saw and show the images to Rajiv as a slide show on the wall of their home on several dusks.
At the young age of 16, Rajiv got his first camera – a point-and-shoot with a film cartridge – a gift from his uncle living in Germany. Rajiv had to be careful, because photography proved to be an expensive hobby and he would get only three or four new cartridges when his uncle flew back to homeland.
With the inspiration he had drawn from his father’s work and with no official training, Rajiv took his baby steps in the world of photography, until he bought his own Pentax in the year 1985 and began shooting everything that interested him.
At the time, Rajiv was living in Bombay, happy in his first job. He was occasionally leafing through the pages of photography magazines to satiate his hunger for more learning.
In 2011, when Rajiv was flipping through the pages of an Indian magazine on photography, he came across a Toehold advert. He had done his fair share of wildlife and street photography until then, but the Kabini Photo Tour by Toehold caught his attention and he signed up for it.
“On a Toehold Tour, even when I don’t have questions of my own, I get to learn a lot when Skippers answer others’ questions.”
It was on the Photo Tour that Rajiv fathomed the saying that learning is perpetual, in all its essence. In his own words: “I try not to miss even a single chance to learn something new, and that’s almost every day. But what I like the most about going on a Photo Tour with Toehold is that, even when I have no questions of my own, I still get to learn a lot when the Skippers are answering someone else’s questions. It’s such a genuine pleasure to travel with Toehold Skippers.”
Wildlife and street photography happen to be Rajiv’s most favourite genres of photography. While he loves capturing mammals and avian beauties in action, the mystery of a stranger’s face talking to the artist in him makes him a street photographer seeking new expressions.
When asked about his favourite places, Rajiv explains, “I long for the peace and serenity and the filtered light that forests allow us to bask in. That’s why I love the quivering blue-green lushness of Kaziranga, the monsoon season in Kabini, and the very locale of Valparai and the small but brilliant lion-tailed macaques that live there.
“Pursuit of wild beings has made me so much more patient.”
“Corbett is the next place I want to be in, as I have heard brilliant episodes of sightings. Waiting to watch the wild beings in their natural habitat has made me acquire so much more patience than I ever had before, which now helps better on the wok front and social interaction as well. The way avian beauties flaunt their colours never ceases to mesmerise me, and I plan on nurturing this passion by going on more birding Photo Tours with Toehold.”
Mr Ramanathan exclaims that he’s impressed by Toehold’s way of organising Photo Tours, down to the last mundane detail, and by just how much the Skippers know, thoroughly, about the creatures and the terrains they venture out to.
He speaks with an almost enviable clarity when asked about what photography means to him. He explains how he looks at it as a form of art that brings back pleasurable memories just when one is seeking them.
“Photography means palpable memory that brings a smile, a happy memory back”, he asserts, and ends his explanation elegantly. And we too, shall leave you with that simple thought this week.