Praveen Premkumar Pai and his DSLR, his true partner, love to travel. Together, they move around, documenting the various emotions nature throws their way. His life has been a journey, says Praveen, to visualize a frame and capture it for eternity. Onmanorama catches up with this nature enthusiast, award winning photographer and traveler in a new series called Travel Tuesday.
Why wildlife photography and who's the inspiration?
Since my childhood, I have been intrigued by the myriad visual treats offered by nature. The greenery, the many interesting species of birds and animals that inhabited the spaces around me inspired me. I got addicted to nature. The places I traveled to, took me closer to mother earth. Wildlife photography is something I love, but I do not want to be tagged as one. It is one of the genres I am comfortable with.
I do not have a specific role model. I strongly believe every one has a different perspective and so a different story to share from every visual they frame. But yes the famous National Geography, Animal Planet, Discovery channel etc has played major roles in keeping me engaged and attached to the world around me.
Stories behind favorite frames
Every frame speaks a different story and the meanings I see in them may not be what you feel when you see it. It is difficult to pick out a particular frame. But I would like to mention a few which turned out to be a huge mark of success in my journey.
The sneaky touch:
This particular snap turned out to be a lifer in my career. It has got me a couple of accolades including the national award. The Ranganathittu Bird Sanctuary situated in Mysore, Karnataka was the venue. It was breeding season. I have this habit of pre-visualising a frame. I saw this huge spot billed pelican skimming it’s way all over the water surface either to drink water or to get hold of its food. So I waited there at a particular spot waiting for hours just to achieve that one shot as I had visualized. And after a trail of 45 mins and almost 30 attempts I had it in my life list.
This photo happened on an early morning on a fine Saturday in 2015. This calm and silent owl was so lazy and sleeping on its perch. I saw that this owl was yawning in between. I waited. The owl repeated its action. I was ready for the shot and I managed to capture its red tongue the next time it yawned.
Calm and mesmerizing:
This one is a normal scenery where I wished to show something mesmerizing and compare it with our daily life which is always busy and fast moving. The venue was Lal Bagh Botanical Garden in Bengaluru. I noticed a Brahmini kite flying around. And this photo just happened.
Most challenging photos
I would say that the 'sneaky touch', I mentioned earlier, was the most challenging. It was taken during the days when I was just considering photography as a career. I was not sure about decision making, about finalizing a frame, the settings. This shot taught me a lot of things – including the art of taking an action photograph.
There is one more picture which would fall into this category. The venue was Bandipur Tiger Reserve. This Royal Bengal Tiger, a male, was sleeping and I saw that he had this habit of waving his paw at odd intervals of time. I looked, I waited, I framed my picture and the very next time he raised his paw, I pressed the shutter. It was a splendid moment and a photograph worth all the trouble.
The one experience you cannot forget or want to change
In the field of photography, specially wildlife every frame has an alternative version. Every second counts. It is all about the angles you pick. 'I wish I could have done better' happens with all the frames I capture. Ultimately, it’s like no photographs are that apt and perfect to me in my way of thinking. But yes, I wouldn't say I am not satisfied with my works. It is the hope for that good picture I will take tomorrow that keeps me going.
Journey so far and plans for the future
My journey so far has been real hard and tough. I am happy that I followed my passion for photography. Today, I have established and registered my own dream venture/brand 'clickNframe' started back in 2012 (as a Facebook page to display my works). My path wouldn’t have been easy if my friends and family did not support me.
I want to help and educate others who are passionate about establishing themselves in the field of photography. I want to visit almost all forests in India and abroad and document them.
To people who love photography and wildlife
Those who are looking forward to mark a space within the crowd, let it be any field or any profession - patience, hard work and a heart to follow your passion as well as chase your dream is the only key feature you need to have. And one can achieve it with pure concentration and focus.
To those who want to take up photography career
Photography is an art and its not something everyone can learn or master in a day or two. It is a learning curve. Photography is never dependent on the equipment you use. You need an eye for detail and a frame in mind. One can make a simple yet outstanding photograph with a basic set. To get best output or to create a master photograph with great lighting and content, it’s just about your hard work, practice, patience, a good mind to understand plus observation skill that one needs in order to achieve it.