Hailing from a family with a photography background, following in the footsteps of his father to start a career in photography would have been a natural progression for Jayanth Sharma. Instead he joined the IT industry in 2004 as a graphic designer. 3 years into it and having realized his ‘true calling’ Jayanth decided to quit his job and rekindle his passion for photography. And from there on started a journey of passion & adventure and he soon found a place among the Top 10 wildlife photographers of India.
Today having published his works in several leading journals and magazines, Jayanth owns his own photography company by the name Toehold and gives photography training to aspirants. In a chat with TravelRasoi, Jayanth talks about his photography skills while also sharing some of his experiences with our readers –
What are your views on today’s generation of clicking pictures on a smartphone?
When it comes to photography, there are 2 types of photographs that are taken – one is a proof to show something; like you visit Taj Mahal and you take a picture, which you have actually documented it as a memory. In this scenario a mobile phone camera suffices your photography requirement. But if you want to take a photograph of the Taj Mahal that is of great quality and want to publish it in a magazine to write a story around it, you need a good DSLR camera. So there is a big difference between the photo quality of a DSLR and a smartphone camera. Again what difference it matters to me may not be something that matters to other people, but it is altogether a different approach to photography.
Now again there are 2 kinds of people – one who wishes to visit Ladakh and would take a camera along to take good pictures and the other is one who wants to visit Ladakh just to take pictures. Depending on who the person is either a mobile phone camera or a DSLR camera would be their requirement.
What is photography is very subjective, because a picture taken by a selfie is also called photography in today’s scenario. But we know that professionally that is not photography. So I believe that there is a difference between creating a piece of art and documenting something. A mobile phone camera always has some limitations to what they can do. The DSLR on the other hand can allow you to push the creativity limits to the extreme.
When did you start your journey and how did photography attract you to make a career?
I was born and brought up in a family that has a photography background. My father is a professional photographer and that is how I got a knack for photography in my genes. However I never imagined that I would become a photographer some day; because photography is not a good career option unless you are a wedding photographer or you have a studio. I happened to be a great nature lover and used to go out to enjoy birds, animals, landscape etc. And that is how my passion for photography started. In my early 20’s the digital camera became very accessible to the world. So it is just a co-incidence of my time and life, apart from the digital cameras becoming popular that I used photography as a tool to express my interest in nature. I train people in photography and that is what I do for a living.
When did you actually start professional photography?
I was working in the IT industry between 2004 -2007 and doing photography simultaneously, more so as a hobby. In 2007, I quit my job and started pursuing photography full time. I have been using the DSLR since childhood. I got my first Nikon DSLR camera in 2004 which I bought on my own.
How has technology paved the way for good photography?
Technology will always improve and will only become better. There is no technology that has made it worse than what it was before. Photography is no exception, as it had made it easy for people to take some amazing pictures which they probably could not have 15-20 years back. This has increased the quality of photography generally. To make a coloured photo in 80’s was a challenge to people. Today anyone with a mobile camera could make that. The benchmark of what is good photography has improved. When I was a child what was considered a good photography is no longer the case today with the improvement in technology. Art is improving, creativity is improving and what humans can produce with the camera is improving with the change in technology. Today, 50% of my photography is creativity and 50% is my equipment. Both man and machine complement each other. 10 years back I was struggling to take a picture in low light when I was shooting for a magazine’s cover picture. But life of a photographer has only become better with the ease in technology today.
What has changed in these years in wildlife photography?
Wildlife photographers need to have telephoto lenses or wide-angled lenses to showcase animals in their habitat. I use all these different kind of lenses. In earlier days, taking a picture of a tiger meant taking either the tiger’s face or the tiger’s cave. Today’s photography demands a picture in which you can show the environment where the tiger belongs. A tiger in the Corbett National Park may or may not be different from a tiger shown in the Bandipur tiger reserve in South India, but the forest would be different. So it is important to show more of the habitat and not only the animal today. Every picture has a different idea and so every kind of lenses is required to do wildlife photography.
What future do you see for wildlife photography in India?
It is one of the most widely enjoyed photography areas, because people derive a sense of adventure from it. There has been an increase in the number of people travelling to forests to take wildlife photographs. In the next 10 years with emerging technologies, everybody would be seen jumping into wildlife photography. There is also a sense of thrill, adventure and achievement in that.
How long do your assignments require you to remain away from home?
I spend close to 150-200 days outside and the remaining 150 days at home, as this is the time when I will work the most. Maybe if you ask me this question 15 years later, I would probably say that I am out for 75 days in a year. But as of now, I am at my prime and I am making the most out of it.
I spend most of my time in Africa and I enjoy working there a lot. Having said that there are a lot of interesting places in India as well. But at this moment I spend a lot of my time in the Polar region – both the Arctic and the Antarctica to do my wildlife photography. Because many people are doing wildlife photography today, what was special 10 years is no longer special today. So my work demands me to go to places that are very rarely visited.
Can wildlife photography be a good career option?
I feel there is no career in wildlife photography anymore. But it is something that people do for pleasure. Very few people like me can make it a living out of it. Only 10 in the country today make a living out of photography. If anyone is thinking of making a career out of wildlife photography then they are actually fooling themselves. We don’t make a living anymore by selling our exclusive images.