Into the Wild: Subhas Nair’s encounter with wildlife photography

The real winners are those who chase their dreams and make them their own. It’s when you start living your dreams that life becomes meaningful. Meet Subhash Nair, the IT Professional who had a passion for wildlife photography. He loved framing the forests, animals in their natural habitat, and also flora and fauna. Wildlife photographers are those who connect humans to the world. It was travel that drew Subhash closer to the wildlife and to wildlife photography.

Subhash who loves travel and wildlife is a well-known wildlife photographer today and also a very helpful wildlife guide. In 2019, he received the Sanctuary Asia awards (Honorable mention) and several of his photographs have been published in BBC and National Geographic.

If you borrow the words of Subhash who is the ambassador of Nikon camera and Oppo phone— “It’s not the quality of the camera but the keen eye that frames the pictures that makes a great photographer.” It is his undying passion for photography and hard work that has turned him into a well-known photographer.

Subhash Nair talks
“I came very late into this field. If you ask the famous photographers, they will talk about learning photography at a very young age and how they got their first camera gifted by their father at the age of 10. Today's kids get familiar with the camera in plus two. By that standard, I came to this field very late. I was roughly 25 when I saw a quality camera. It was through the help of a friend that I first brought a new camera from abroad.

Travel and photography
I love travelling. And I also love driving, so whenever I get some time, I love to travel. And typically I have always been in love with wildlife. Mostly I prefer taking long trips. During the initial days, I didn’t have a camera. It’s only after I brought a camera that the realization dawned on me that wildlife photography was my passion. That’s why I decided to make it my full-time job.

It’s the natural habitat of nature and animals that fascinate me. Once we closely watch the wildlife and understand the animal life and how happy they are in their natural habitat, we can never go back to zoos and enjoy watching these animals in captivity. What's more, we will find it traumatizing to even watch the elephants being decked up for temple festivals. I have visited most of the wildlife sanctuaries in India. There is no greater joy than spending time with the animals and the staff there. And it is something I look forward to every time.

Favourite wildlife
You won’t get the sheer magnificence of Indian forests anywhere else. Our forests are very real and organic. Every visit to the wildlife is an eye-opener. Africa’s wildlife is different. A perfect place to witness the sunset and sunrise. Despite being two completely different terrains, this diverse wildlife is charming to watch.

Some of our wildlife sanctuaries like Jim Corbett, Casiranga, Company, Bandavagad, Thadoba, Kanha are beautiful. Each time these jungles offer something new during every visit. Each forest has a separate character. And it differs in every place.

If you are planning to take up wildlife photography, there is no need to specialise in a particular animal or segment. While walking through the forest I like to frame anything that catches my fancy. It can be a herd of elephants, deers, or a pride of lions.

Sometimes during wildlife safaris guides will tell you there won’t be tigers or lions. But then I will them it's ok even a tiny butterfly, frog or a tree snake will be enough for me. For me, what matters is to take pictures of the forest, document their lives, and enjoy the sheer beauty of wildlife. So many of them will be enough as a subject.

Photographers Mecca
Africa is known as the photographer's Mecca, especially the wildlife. A majority of wildlife photographers dream of visiting Africa at least once in their lifetime. I would like to call the Masai Mara wildlife sanctuary my second home. I would make sure to visit the place at least twice or thrice a year. But each time the place stuns me. Even last year I went there.

I can never forget my first trip to Africa. The minute I started taking wildlife photography seriously I wanted to make a trip to Africa. That’s how I reached Nairobi airport. From there we flew in a 14-seater mini plane to reach the Masai mara wildlife sanctuary. The flight landed on an airstrip that was right in the middle of the forest.

There was an announcement from the pilot when we were about to land. Just when we were getting ready to land, suddenly the flight took off to air and we all got scared. When we enquired to the pilot, we were told that there was a Giraffe standing on the airstrip. Without the tall fellow moving from there it was impossible to land the flight. Though it might sound amusing, in reality, we were actually intruding into their natural habitat. Even that airstrip has been created in the middle of their homes. That was my most unforgettable African memory. Post that Africa’s charm kept calling me back. And I went happily.

Selfie with Orangutan
Sometimes there are moments to cherish when we frame pictures. Some are captured on camera and quite a few others are on our minds. That’s the kind of memories I got during my Indonesian trip. If you want to see Orangutans in their natural habitat you have to go to Indonesia. We had gone to the Borneo wildlife sanctuary to take pictures of the Orangutans. Suddenly one Orangutan came and grabbed my hand much to my chagrin. And he seems to have no intention of letting go of my hands. He waited for a while and perhaps realised that I was no threat and posed for a selfie and left. Think about this, these are creatures who match humans DNA at least 97%. They are as smart as humans and even have good communication skills.

When I was left red-faced in front of my family
My family enjoys my photography and travelling craze. Even during family trips, they have no qualms about entering the wildlife with me. I will tell you about an incident that happened during such a family trip. It was an eye-opener and made me think differently about wildlife after that. That time I had only a small camera with me. But then in front of my family, I am supposed to be this hotshot wildlife photographer. We were driving through the forest in a jeep. With us there was a photographer with a license and a big camera. Suddenly in front of us we spotted a cheetah. Immediately I took my small camera to shoot. And guess what the photographer told me.“Subhash, you can’t take a picture in that small camera. So please keep the camera aside and learn to enjoy the beauty of nature.” I felt deeply embarrassed to hear those words in front of my family. Having said that, I must say that a beautiful photograph cannot be credited to a high-quality, expensive camera alone. Be it taking a picture on your phone or your inexpensive camera, it’s about the photographer's talent to capture the image in its essence.

Later me along with friend Varun started the Expand Expedition photography company only because of our passion for this art form. Today we are conducting photography workshops in India and abroad. And we usually get a good attendance for these workshops.

More places to go
Last year we had planned to visit Madagascar and Finland but didn’t materialize. Hopefully, we will get to travel without much fuss very soon. Then we will start planning properly.  

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