WORDS FROM EXPERTS
INTERVIEW WITH VINOD UDHWANI
Vinod Udhwani, an engineer, a teacher and a self taught photographer from Mumbai, Maharashtra is one of the finest wildlife and nature photographers. He has travelled many places and possesses excellent photography skills. His work has been appreciated in several publications, magazines, newspapers etc.
He is here to share his expertise and experience with us.
When did you start your photography? What inspired you to get into it?
I have been earnestly pursuing my passion since the last more than 6years. I bought my first DSLR in early 2010. Prior to that, I dabbled with a couple of point and shoot camera’s.
Although I was born and brought up in Mumbai, I have always been a ‘village guy’ at heart. The locality where I grew up had a lot of open areas with lush green grass. It was a big residential colony of more than 150 buildings. There were a lot of evergreen trees and I would enjoy taking a walk through the grass and shrubs, spend time lying under the trees near my building and watch birds and butterflies carry out their daily activities. So, it was only natural for me to take up wildlife photography – bird photography in particular – as a hobby, which now has become a passion.
How did you learn this art? Do you have a Mentor? Who has been the biggest inspiration?
All that I know about Photography, I have learnt/acquired by myself. I used to refer to a lot of magazines and websites, reading articles on the science and art of photography. That one person, whose articles on photography really helped me take my skill set to the next level, is Mr. Rohinton Jal Mehta. He has been the Dronacharya for this Ekalavya.
Even today I keenly observe and analyze the pictures of stalwarts like Alan Murphy, Arthur Morris and Andy Rouse. I am awe stuck by the black and white images of African wild life made by Nick Brandt. Closer home, I am a great fan of Dhritimaan Mukherji and Sudhir Shivram’s imagery.
What are the hurdles you have faced in the journey of your passion?
The major hurdle has been a limitation on time that I can devote to my passion. What with the worldly duties and responsibilities, there are only a few trips to some of the bird sanctuaries that I can make every year. I would definitely like to streamline my work schedule better and be able to spend a little more time shooting these feathered beauties. Of course, I can always explore locations nearby to my home. But again as I said due to the time bound nature of my work, I have not been able to spend as much time as I would have liked to for the same.
What is your area of specialization in Photography? What inspired you to do specialization in that stream?
Birds. I love shooting birds. The myriad colors of their feathers, their sweet chirping and every other behavior has always fascinated me.
Who doesn’t love birds? Each one of us during our childhood has had that feeling “how I wish I could fly like them”. Bird pictures made by Dr. Caesar Sengupta, got me hooked to bird photography.
What are your goals and future plans?
In the past I have set goals for myself, in terms of saving money to buy equipment. Honestly, after that, I have not set any goals for myself. I shoot birds because I love birds and I love making their photographs. For me as a bird photography artist, the sound of the applauding claps is more soothing and satisfying than the jingle of the coins. If my work is good enough it will get noticed and appreciated. And I would be thankful to all who have loved my work. I have no destination in my mind. I prefer to be engrossed with and enjoy my photographic journey.
As far as plans are concerned the only thing that comes to my mind is – “Which location/bird sanctuary to visit next?
On a serious note, I do intend to spend more time for my hobby. I have made a list of many bird photography locations – both national and international, which I intend to visit soon. I have made a conscious decision to deviate a little from my present style which I feel is very conventional and I intend to experiment a lot more. Hopefully all this will help me become a better photographer than I am today.
What advice and suggestions would you like to give to the amateurs who have begun their journey in this field?
Like in any field/profession, initially there will be a gestation period – a learning period. Today, however, it is much easier to rise up the learning curve and that to very quickly. Get connected with experienced people through social media. Speak to them, see their work, and ask them your queries. Never shy away from asking and clarifying your doubts. The one way I have improved my photography skills is by observing the works of the masters. Immerse yourself in the scene. Observe the lighting, the composition. If the person has shared the EXIF data, go through it. If he has shared his experience while making that image, read it. All these small things will help you get a big improvement in your own skill-set. Learning is a continuous, never ending process. Keep experimenting and try to develop your own unique style.
For amateurs and someone who has just started off, I often have a simple question to ask (and as you answer this question, be honest to yourself) – Have you thoroughly gone through the user manual booklet/CD and familiarized yourself and understood the various features of your camera? Not everyone starts off with a ‘dream camera and dream lens’ (neither did I). It is good to aspire for a high-end gear, but at the same time learn to get the most from your existing one. Quite possible, it may have a few limitations, but learn to work around those limitations. Upgrade your equipment only when you feel genuinely stuck for the lack of certain features in your present gear. Even if you have the financial muscles to buy high-end camera and lens, I would still suggest that let the upgrade be gradual. Start with entry level/mid range camera and spend time with it to understand the fundamentals. Improvise on your skills and figure out that one genre of photography that you enjoy the most. Then invest in upgrading your equipment as per the requirement.
Special Thanks to Vinod Udhwani for sharing his experiences.
With Love & Passion
SMILE ART BEATS.