It’s true that in many a story, venturing out to forests and into the wild begins as a respite from the mundane, clockwork life we’re accustomed to, in the cities. Nonetheless, each story is worth telling, worth sharing. And this week, we bring you one such story – Nandhagopan’s journey as a photographer.
While the father captured both candid and carefully crafted moments at weddings and made a name for his unique perspective and eye for detail in his heydays, the son was subconsciously learning the technical part of making images, which would come to use later for wildlife photography – his passion.
Nandhagopan’s way of taking a respite from work-life is to travel, to travel a lot. What began as casual journeys into the wild with friends soon became an obsession. When his friends encouraged him to take up photography seriously after watching him making evocative images of wildlife and the forests, Nandhagopan marked a new beginning to his passion about three year ago.
Although making images of mammals is his most favourite thing to do, Nandhagopan says he would like to explore birdlife in the near future. His favourite destination, so far, has been Kabini, and he has already been on multiple Toehold Photo Tours to the place.
Says he: “When I bought my first DSLR camera, I couldn’t bring myself to read the instruction manual from cover to cover. I signed up for a Toehold Workshop instead and it’s been one of the wisest decisions I’ve made.”
Nandhagopan quickly started signing up for Toehold Photo Tours and loved travelling with different Skippers to get various insights into wildlife in various places.
His first Toehold Photo Tour was to Gir, and he earnestly explains how he’ll never forget that experience: “When I saw the lions in their natural habitat, I was emotionally transported to a world so beautiful that I never believed I could even imagine. We also saw a hyena on the very first safari and the memory is as fresh in my mind as it can be. That was when I decided that I wanted to explore more wildlife sanctuaries and national parks.”
Talking with an infectious enthusiasm, Nandhagopan continues: “I love how neatly organised Toehold Photo Tours are. They choose the best places for accommodation and travelling and photographing with the Skippers is rewarding.”
“It also helps that the entire Photo Tour group is made of photography and wildlife enthusiasts,” he adds, “it keeps the spark and energy alive throughout the Tour.”
One such Tour was Kenya. “I saw such diverse wildlife there,” he reminisces, “that I think it was worth all the adventure. A cheetah chasing an impala is a sighting that’s etched on my mind; the place simply spells awesomeness.”
Nandhagopan recalls how he had missed his flight to Kenya because of a domestic flight delay and how Toehold still managed to guide him to get to Kenya just in time by working on alternative flight plans.
Being a perfectionist, Nandhagopan always welcomes feedback on his photos when he shares them on social media. He believes that there is always room for improvement and that that’s how art keeps one grounded.
When asked about what photography means to him, Nandhagopan elucidates: “An image should reflect how the mind had perceived a moment, and to a beholder, it should manage to tell the same story without manipulating it. To me, a photograph is all about keeping the art as real and close to reality as possible.”
Nandhagopan tells us that he wants to travel more and explore the wonders hidden in the forests across the country and the globe. We wish he gets to be the globe-trotter and photographer he wants to be!