For all the budding nature photographers, who do not understand what responsible photography is all about, they need to ask themselves few questions, before delving deep into photography. Nature photography in particular.
I thought of a small check list of items that can serve as a thought-starters for all the intending-to-be photographers:
1. Why do I want to do photography? Why Nature in particular when there are hundreds of thousands of nature photographers out there?
Nature/Wildlife photography has become a ‘fashionable hobby’ among youth and young cash-rich professionals. In one of my previous posts here, I had indicated that every person with a camera in hand is indeed a photographer. But, the most important part of photography is sense of responsibility. Asking yourself – Am I a responsible photographer? Defining the term ‘being responsible’ is tough. Asking oneself a simple ( yet profound ) question like: “How much of fragile nature of natural ecosystems and habitats do I understand?” would answer most part of it. It also brings in lot of other thoughts on making of a responsible photographer. Respect for subject that you intend to shoot and maintainability of safe distance from the subject so as to not to intrude too close should be of prime importance. While along the nature’s trail, do not litter, do not leave back any thing, do not take anything, take only photographs for memories. Do you really understand the gravity of these words?
2. Art Vs Documentation.
Art – you either have it in your genes or you don’t. If you don’t and you still want to photograph, then documentation is a way to start with. Document what one sees in nature is the best way to learn the mysteries of nature and behaviors of various birds, mammals and insects. In the process, probing and searching for one’s signature would definitely yield in creation of unique and artistic images.
3. Passion Vs profession or part time?
Many of the photographers, as beginners would start as amateur photographers – where they have a day job other than photography. Converting it into a profession is altogether a different ball game. The question is are you there? If you are passionate about photography, by making it as a profession, how much of your ideals and ethics you intend to take along the journey of being a professional photography. And how much of it do you wish to compromise!
Drawing a line is tough especially when it boils down to your bread and butter. Prime question is – are you *willing* to not to cross the boundaries and yet earn your daily bread?
For me, I do photography because I am passionate about it.
4. Affordability and acquisition
Every day, I get atleast 1-2 e-mails from lots of aspiring photographers asking me questions like – “How do I become a wildlife photographer?” , ” What equipments do I need to buy to shoot like a pro?”, “How can I make images like you do?”. Though these questions sound redundant, I would like to pen down my personal thoughts on photographic tools, a bit.
Photography is indeed an expensive craft to start as a hobby. One need to think many times before getting into it. Investment ( spending, as my friend Ganesh says) on the photographic tools can drill deep holes in your pocket. Investing wisely and effectively after a well thought out strategy should be the need of the hour. Just because your close friend is a photographer, you shouldn’t be one. Just because your friend has the best of the cameras/equipments, you need not invest in the same set of tools, unless it suits your photographic style and needs!
5. The End goal
Always start with a goal in mind. Where do you see as a nature photographer 5 years down the lane? Do you intend to photograph/document as many numbers of birds/species in your life time or do you intend to grow as an artist? Unless you are clear on your thoughts as to why you intend to photgraph, what you intend to do with the craft and what you intend to convey through your ‘photographic messages‘, photography as a hobby or art or serious hobby or profession or what ever you intend to call it, would loose its real essence.
Meaningless, thankless, aimless, irresponsible and unethical work as a photographer would do no justice to the spirit of art and craft of photography.
Let’s be mindful. It is true for any art form.