Learn from the Masters: Rajesh Bedi

Instead of shooting only a close-up of the animal, explore unique perspectives. Photograph/Rajesh Bedi

Instead of shooting only a close-up of the animal, explore unique perspectives. Photograph/Rajesh Bedi

On the occasion of our thirteenth anniversary in 2010, 13 great masters drew from a lifetime of experience to give you over 150 carefully selected tips on photography and ways of seeing. They debated the idea of ‘the perfect moment’ and share their personal practices. In this edition, Great Master Rajesh Bedi shares his tips for better photography.

Love Animals
The most important requirement for a good wildlife photographer needs to be a love for animals. This is something that you need to feel from within—it is not something that can be learnt.

Avoid a Casual Attitude
To do well, you need to have a passion for the visual medium and be dedicated enough.

Academics are Important
Before studying photography and taking it up professionally, finish your basic studies. Education helps you understand the basics of social behavior and also teaches you how to write and talk, which is very important to launch a new career.

Adopt a Guru
It is unfortunate that India does not have a history of photography education. To overcome this problem, I recommend you should assist someone. Your guru will not only guide you and help you develop your skills, but also let you access high-end equipment.

Spend a Lot of Time at the Zoo
This is a great way to develop your skills if you are young and inexperienced. Shoot at different times of day, understand animal behavior and experiment in this ‘controlled’ environment. Let the zoo be your testing ground so that you can figure out whether wildlife photography is your cup of tea or not.

Meet the Authorities in Advance
A forest is a great place to shoot, but first meet the forest ranger, forest guards and other authorities. Ask them for information on the animal behavior in that particular forest. Remember that the behavior of the same species may be very different in different habitats.

Carry a Folding Hide
A hide is invaluable for a wildlife photographer to stay unnoticed, but never set up a hide without taking the authorities into confidence.

Experience is the best Teacher
Read a lot. But remember that experience is your best teacher, especially when it comes to wildlife photography. You need to carve your own space in the jungle, which happens only with time.

Be Humble
Humility is of essence in nature and wildlife photography. Nature will surprise and astound you with her sheer beauty. You are only a mere spectator with a pursuit to photograph her.

Respect Your Subject
If you respect animals, you will be respected by them. The elephants will not charge at you and will actually give you ample opportunities to click photographs… if you are respectful.

Break Away from Old School
In India, most wildlife photography is about portraiture. There are different ways of interpreting wildlife that people are not exploring. A closeup of a tiger may be grand and majestic, but it does not give the viewer any context.

Don’t Get Too Lost In Your LCD
A lot of youngsters get too lost in admiring their pictures and spend way too much time delving into endless number of menus and settings. In all this, the cheetah takes a fantastic leap or the eagle sweeps in on its prey. Be alert at all times—you can review your pictures back at home.

My Interpretation of the Moment
In the midst of nature, with the most incredible animals all around you, the perfect moment may occur a number of times in a single day, or may not happen at all for a week. It is when the light is perfect, as is the pose, composition and every other element in your frame. The perfect moment is when life stands still, and you, as a photographer, can only salute it.

Rajesh Bedi is one of India’s biggest names in the genre of wildlife photography, and along with his brother Naresh, has worked towards portraying and conserving wildlife. This self-taught photographer also won the Wildlife Photographer of the Year Award in a worldwide competition in England in 1986.

Tags: Wildlife, Animals, Great Master, Nature, Rajesh Bedi, june 2010