Sunday, March 29, 2009

Tiger Photography

What is Tiger Photography? Can someone earn his living from Tiger photography?? I worked with so many Top Photographers of the world and majority of them answered NO. Here I am talking about Still Photography. Being a photographer myself I says yes I don't earn any part of my living from Tiger Photography. You must be thinking that I am lying or I am not a good quality photographer. So let us see the good quality photographer like Steve Bloom, Jeremy Woodhouse, Kim Sullivan,Theo Alloff, Rajesh Bedi, Nick Garbutt, Tony Heald and all what they have done. I visit their website and found majority of pictures are of other animals Tiger is less than 2%. So if these pictures are not saleable than why make so much fuss about them?? We know how difficult it is to make a good quality picture. Majority of photographers thinks Tigers is a good flowery picture, one must have this kind of flower in their flowerpot. Working with photographers is tough, even very tough if you know what kind of photograph they want. There are many places in Bandhavgarh where i would like to see a Tiger in early morning or late evening light. How many times I have photographed in this kind of situation answer is almost NO. I was talking same thing to one Forest Officer he asked then Why so many tourists comes to see and photograph a Tiger. That is Tourism?? Is like addiction? If I have money and I have seen this and this then now I would like to see this. This kind of Tourist has nothing to do with Tigers. They treat it like visiting a restaurant. One goes there orders his favorite food, enjoys it

and goes back home happily without thinking about the crockery, cutlery or linen used in the restaurant. That's why Kailash Sankhla wrote in his book that we don't want such tourists who just wants to tick the tiger along with Taj.

Let me come back to photography. Tiger photography has become difficult because of so many reasons. But I want to talk about its cost, why it has gone so costly. Only reason what I see is due to the policies of forest department. I say firmly that Forest department officers have no idea about the cost, and the value of the money one pays to enter the park. In last thirty years I have never seen any retired forest officer of any rank visiting national after paying entry fee. I know some who will not plan their holiday until unless they find some connection who can arrange their free Lodging boarding and vehicle. Still enjoying perks. So if this is the attitude then how one can feel the money pinching.Recently I was in ASSAM. One of my friend called me. we keep in touch on regular basis. That day I said I m in Assam, in Kaziranga. Oh one of my batch mate is there we were together in wildlife training. Find his number I will love to talk to him. So after our game drive I asked driver if he know this person. Yes we will see him on way to the lodge, Driver said. I met this person and simply asked his phone no because my friend------ wants to talk to him. He remembered him after good twenty years, asked about his posting and promotion. In next 5 minutes I take his leave. Next morning I saw him again at entrance gate. He started talking about some retired PCCF of M.P. who is interested in Birds and staying with forest deptt consumed lots of his time unnecessary. That is the perks after retirement. And that is the reason why they never feel money pinching. Everything comes free. I know many cases like this. Do you think system will improve, never. One Field Director of one of the Madhya Pradesh's Tiger Reserve said clearly about allowing people illegally without paying entry fee that we help them in this manner and they help us in return. I asked him is this not corruption and why don't you ask them to help you officially. Never got any reply. So that is the reason why Tiger Photography is costly.

I took this picture on 19th March at about 0744. I was waiting for this Tigress to appear with her cubs since last 30-40 minutes. When she started coming out of the jungle on a perfect spot suddenly a Gypsy appeared in speed and stopped parallel to me throwing a cloud of dust in front of my camera. I lost a very good opportunity of photographing a tiger simply because of some idiot driver. Fores department failed to control them in the park. For speed they believe in putting the speed breakers rather than telling them to behave properly in the jungle. After how many days one gets a chance to see Tigress with her cubs walking towards you in such a calm manner. My client was furious.

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