Sneak peek of my childhood & college
Since my childhood, I have loved Painting, Arts & Literature. I believe it is hereditary, reckoning it came from my maternal grandfather. He was a freedom fighter, writer, social worker, and a tremendous art lover. Being a strong follower of Mahatma Gandhi, he worked towards the upliftment of marginalized, deprived and poor sections of the society by providing justice to them.
During my schooling, along with studies I used to participate in a lot of outdoor and indoor sports and games. Also, I liked to draw paintings out of sketches. Even after I joined the college, my interests never waned. I still loved painting & drawing cartoons. But, due to lack of knowledge and any guidance, I was not able to join any professional course of painting. Life went ahead and like it used to happen in most of the families at that time, as a younger child, I had to follow the footsteps of my eldest sister, who was a software professional.
Joining a professional career in IT sector
I pursued computers, became an IT professional and got busy with work in the IT sector, normally as everyone does. Throughout this, the love of art and artist inside me was lost for sometime. The only thing I used to do when I had the time was, watching Animal Planet and that’s when I grew fond of animals and wildlife. But, at that time too, I was not fascinated about Cameras or Photography. I remember, we had a small Konica Camera, which was rarely used except a few occasions like family functions, ceremonies, etc. where I used to shoot some photographs.
Starting my own Entrepreneurial venture
After having worked with several organizations, I decided to start my own business venture. I began with Desktop Publishing (DTP) works, including designing, printing, documentation, etc. Later, I launched my own software development company, which also included digital marketing services. With packed schedules and business affairs, I rarely got a break to even go outside the city. I worked rigorously for more than 12 years to establish myself.
Marriage, travels, & developing interest in photography
I was thirty when I got married and began a new life with my partner. We traveled and visited many places in India. At that time, I had a Sony point and shoot camera, using which I shot more than twenty thousand photographs at different places and memorable locations where I used to visit with my family. As I loved photographic documentation of the places I visited, I took photographs of me and my wife at various important locations. As a result, there were too many photographs to print and a need of album for them. To get those photos printed and buy an album, I visited a nearby photo studio. The photographer at that studio praised my photographs and that is the first instance where I saw him with a DSLR camera. I got to know from him that Nikon D90 camera is one of the best cameras used for photography. From then on, the Nikon brand got etched in my mind as I eagerly wanted to purchase it for shooting photographs in near future.
During that period, one of my clients came India to meet us. During his trip to India, we took him to the best of places over here and he carried his Nikon Camera to capture the best moments. Meanwhile, I also got some opportunities to shoot some photographs using that camera. Though I felt the camera was heavy for me, its clicking sound fascinated me. That fascination rooted inside me.
With that pulsating interest, I went to a known electronics store which also sells Nikon Cameras. I put a query regarding Nikon DSLR Cameras to the person there whom I knew for a long time, and this was the same person who sold me the Sony Camera previously. He advised me not to buy the DSLR as it had many functions and features that I have no idea about and suggested me to get a higher range point and shoot camera. I was feeling disappointed and sad after hearing this.
Afterwards, when I visited different trade fair events, I normally go to the stalls showcasing Nikon Cameras, observe the camera catalogs for features and specifications. Once again, I decided to go for an inquiry about the Nikon DSLR camera. This time, I chose the Nikon store on the ground floor of Big Bazaar. But, to my dismay, the person at this store repeated the same words as stated by the person in the previous store, but in a slightly different way. He asked whether I knew about photography settings and adjustments, such as aperture, shutter speed, etc. and said that I need to learn these things before I start with a DSLR. Again, I was left disappointed.
Joining a brief photography course
It was also that period when I was blessed with a baby girl ‘Mamlu’ and I became a proud father. I enthusiastically clicked photographs of her using my Sony camera. And, my daily routine continued, devoting all of my time with family and work. Eventually, I was fed up with this routine and became least focused. I kept thinking about the things that really inspires me, makes me feel good. And it happened. One day, I was surfing the newspaper and came across a small ad citing Free Photography Course offered by the MSME department for technical education. This ad delighted me as I was seeking a course to use a DSLR. Actually, this course was targeted at young people, encouraging them to start their own business out of photography by setting up a studio and offering related services. I quickly dialed the number cited in the advertisement. To my relief, I was eligible for the set criteria, in terms of age limit and rest.
I went their office on next Sunday as it was instructed in the advertisement. Quite a bit nervous I was, as I didn’t want to get recognized there as the head of a company, being there alongside other young people, because I already knew many people working for that department. And my doubts turned into reality when a familiar face noticed me when I entered the classroom. He was an old friend and invited me to the dais, treating me as a guest. He introduced me to the guests and dignitaries present on the dais.
Meanwhile, I again started to feel that my desire to learn photography using a DSLR is going to ruin. However, my friend inquired me the reason of coming there. So, I told him that I wanted to learn photography by joining this course. He was elated on learning that, lauding me that despite of a grueling schedule, I wanted to pursue my hobby. Later, he introduced to my first instructor of the course, Mr. Debanshu Patnaik. The course was a total of six classes, each conducted on a Sunday. I was happy to discover that there were people of my age who joined this course on the very first day.
Buying my first DSLR camera
During the first class, I had an awkward moment when all took out their DSLRs and I had this point and shoot camera for snapping the images, as instructed by the instructor. Though the instructor suggested me to buy an entry-level Nikon camera, one of my fellow mates told me to get a D7000 Nikon DSLR. Considering that, I surfed the Internet and found a higher model of D71000 DSLR available in the markets. Finally, I decided to buy the D7100 Nikon DSLR camera from an electronics store, referred by our instructor with a discounted price.
Beginning of my photography journey
Feeling relaxed, I took my new camera for the next classes, which ended up quickly. We were asked to shoot the photographs using Auto-priority mode. At that time, people opined a person operating the DSLR in the manual mode has good skills. To understand the workings of the camera in manual mode, I read the manual given with the camera many times and started experimenting with aperture, shutter & ISO with a dummy model at home as suggested by our instructor. After the course ended, a closing ceremony was hosted. The ceremony was attended by Mr. Sumon Sinha, head of Mushroom Photography Club who came as a guest. I was fortunate enough to get introduced to him by my friend. And, Mr. Sinha invited me to join the Mushroom Club and I immediately agreed.
After joining the club, I participated in many Photo walk sessions, Outdoor Trips, Workshops, Meetings, Exhibitions and several events related to photography and learned various aspects. This club where I joined was filled with passionate photographers, who were cooperative and friendly, which made feel comfortable with all of them and I felt like in a family. From then on, I went out on many excursions, met people, mostly photographers who had a penchant of street, macro or wildlife photography. Initially, I used to take all types of photographs, but gradually I gathered interest in wildlife, especially bird photography.
The inspiration of bird photography came to me from Mr. Prasant, a person who told his stories of various bird photographs he had taken. I was exhilarated and inspired to explore the journey of bird photography. While being a member of Mushroom Circle, I visited several wildlife areas and shot images of beautiful birds. I also received an invitation from a birding group of Odisha, which I accepted. With the other members of this birding group, I joined several Photo walks, learnt the ways of birding and birding etiquettes and most of all, gained colossal experience. I joined them on trips, got ideas about them and learnt the basics of photography. Ultimately, I pursued wildlife photography trips with friends of our club, shared knowledge and experiences. It gave me a complete peace of mind, the desire which I had for a long time.
The story so far…
My family member weren’t approving my desire to pursue wildlife photography, doubting my focus on business and work. But, gradually, they too fell in love with animals, birds and rest of wildlife after seeing my photographic documentations. My wife, who is very fond of birds and little angel daughter Mamlu would accompany me for birding and wildlife trips. Both of them enjoy it a lot. In fact, my wife persuades and inspires me to go on wildlife trips, capture snaps of birds and animals. While I am out of station, she takes care of the home. When I come back, my wife & daughter are the two most eagerly waiting persons to see the photographs snapped by me. My daughter, though much younger to decide, aspires to become a wildlife photographer and accompany me to all the trips in the future.