Rathika Ramaswamy interviewed by Shehnaz (2014)

Narrating stories with her pictures, Rathika Ramaswamy is a wild life photographer based in Delhi.  She is from Theni, Southern Tamil Nadu. Photography was always her passion, even as a school kid. 
She has excelled in the field and has been listed one of the top 20 photographers in India, according to the Kolkata-based organization Birds of India, and the only Indian woman featured in the list. 
She set for this off-track career leaving behind her job of a software engineer. She has self-learned the many skills of photography. Her shift to Delhi after marriage was an unconscious step, taking her closer to wild-life photography. She says, Delhi is surrounded by so many wetlands and is close to many National parks- Sultanpur, Bharatpur, Jim Corbett… Her nascent interest in nature-photography found a firm ground in Delhi. 
Rathika was always keen in the capturing candid moments. She does not really know what finally set her in this path of wild-life photography. She recalls her 1st photograph being published of Malabar Hornbill that boosted her faith. And she carried the passion forward.
Many amateur photographers are turning towards wild-life photography. This is really encouraging says Rathika. She is loaded with questions from students asking for classes, workshops and questions related to wild life photography.
One basic element that qualifies a person to enter into this field is the passionate love for nature. One has to wait for hours, often days for getting a picture perfect moment.  Also, it is very important for one to remember that wild life photography is not just about a random click. It is important to understand the internal dynamics of the profession. It requires ample amount of research. Before landing directly on the shooting grounds, one should be well equipped with knowledge of the place, seasonal changes, bird/animal behavioral pattern etc… for instance if one wants to capture a tiger, its not enough to go to Jim Corbett. It is important to go in summer, when the tigers come out from the denses of the forest, to the water bodies. There is a need to learn about the minute details. ‘Its not as easy and glamorous as it sounds… you need to be on your toes all the time, ready to travel, ready to face the adversaries of nature, a sharp vision with a sound knowledge about the subject..’ says Rathika.
The close encounters of a wild life photographer also brings him/her closer to nature. There is an understanding of the nature, and a will to conserve it. Rathika finds it really encouraging that more and more people are opting for wild-life photography that would bring the young generation closer to nature and help in its conservation. 
Talking about post-photo processing, Rathika says it is not acceptable in wild life photography. Minimum processing goes into nature photography unlike other genres. Infact, if there is any digital manipulation like change of color etc… one has to mention it… 
However, at present wild life photography is still in its nascent stage. In comparison to other photography like Fashion, Wedding etc… wild life photography has yet to develop a lucrative market. But certainly, there is a growth.
When asked if there is a need of a formal training, as Rathika herself is a self-taught photographer… she says that a formal training is good, it only adds to ones knowledge. Self-learning might take a little more time, and attending workshops will only be a bonus.
Rathika herself is involved in conducting workshops all over India. She has also published a book ‘Bird Photography: Birds of the Indian sub-continent’.

A shot that you wish you had not missed:
A rare site of 5-6 owls sitting on a branch, they flew before I could click … due to the commotion created by school kids…

Things that you always carry when you are on shoot:
Besides my equipment and first aid, the one must thing is prior research about the site and bird behavior, and also a local guide.    Best shot
Its really hard to pick one. But the moment that I cherish the most is when I clicked a tiger for the first time at kanha… in 2005    Your Favorite shooting site

I love shooting in India, and Jim Corbett will top the list of my favorites.

Rarest Bird / animal that you photographed
Its not rare, but its difficult to spot a Srilankan Frog Mouth Bird, and I happened to click it…
One advice to all people who wants to take up wild life photography
The one advice would be to take wild life photography only if one truly and passionately loves nature.    

Photographers that inspires you
Arthur Morris    

If not a wildlife photographer, you would be-

Cant really Imagine!!
Tiger at Kanha National Park                         Srilankan Frogmouth
Indian Roller                                       Owl’s !!
Malabar Grey Hornbill                               The child being fed

Visit Rathika Ramaswamy’s Website for more delightful captures- 


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