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Retro Kolkata Exclusive : Interview with the Amazing Wildlife Photographer Aparupa Dey



Every aspect of wildlife is exciting and unique to each other. Even if you go to the same place to capture the same species you would return with some different photos everyday and that is exciting. Every moment is precious, every action is precious and going through the process of getting unique clicks is precious. Still, I must say India being a megadiverse nation and housing around 10% of the world's species has never failed to excite me in my journey

Retro Kolkata : First of all, thank you for accepting our invitation for an interview as our Guest Photographer. Let’s have a jump into the past. When did you first know that you wanted to be a photographer and how did you go about pursuing this dream?

Aparupa : Thanks to you for inviting me. Honestly, I have no idea "when" but certainly I can tell "How". In my case, a series of events had decided what I wanted to be, rather than a single point of time. Being an ardent bird lover, it all started with simple bird watching and enjoying nature. Slowly I started capturing them for memory and then wanted to become good at it. And there you go, the process started to pursue my dream.


Image © Aparupa Dey

Retro Kolkata : Have you had any formal photography training and if not, how did you get to where you are today?

Aparupa : No I have not taken any formal training from any university but this does not mean I have not learned or taken help. Endless YouTube seasons of various professional photographers and on field experiments have shaped my knowledge and led me to where I am today.


Retro Kolkata : Why did you choose wildlife photography in particular?

Aparupa : It's something I have not chosen in fact. It's something I have enjoyed. I enjoyed watching wild nature, I enjoyed the hustle of the wind, I enjoyed the rain and the mist. And I enjoyed capturing all of them in frame. So, I would rather say I chose to enjoy it with my camera rather than merely photographing it.


Image © Aparupa Dey

Retro Kolkata : Which part of the world have you found most exciting as a wildlife photographer?

Aparupa : Every aspect of wildlife is exciting and unique to each other. Even if you go to the same place to capture the same species you would return with some different photos everyday and that is exciting. Every moment is precious, every action is precious and going through the process of getting unique clicks is precious. Still, I must say India being a megadiverse nation and housing around 10% of the world's species has never failed to excite me in my journey.


Image © Aparupa Dey

Retro Kolkata : What exactly is wildlife and natural habitat conservation & why is it important ? How can you as a photographer help protect wildlife and conservation?

Aparupa : The answer needs quite a deliberation. But speaking about wildlife and natural habitat, I would say that Natural habitat is the place where a species can live freely and reproduce without being threatened.

Conservation is really the need of the hour. In the past few decades, the human population has increased exponentially there by reducing the natural habitat of many floras and faunas. Many of them are extinct and many are on the verge of extinction. And many will become extinct, if proper policies are not formed.

But no policy can be effective till people put their soul into it. And here comes the role of photographers and cinematographers. They and their work bring the message of awareness and coexistence to the common masses which develops empathy. It develops a natural tendency to care and thereby creating an environment of harmony and coexistence and reduces human-animal conflict.


Image © Aparupa Dey

Retro Kolkata : How much research do you do prior to going out on the field? Is it important to know a lot about animal behaviour to get the perfect shot?

Aparupa :I would consider them as homework rather than research. It is very important to know what kind of species the place is going to offer and the behaviour of those species before you go to shoot them. It helps you predict the next movement that the species would do. For example, in the case of a kingfisher, most of the time it returns to the same perch where it was sitting earlier after making a kill. So even if you have a low end camera you can easily get a flight shot just by predicting the next move of the kingfisher.

And the knowledge of behaviour is very much required as without knowing it, you may break its circle of fear where the species may feel threatened. So, it helps in maintaining a safe distance.


Retro Kolkata : What’s your go-to gear setup when out in the field?

Aparupa : It always depends on the situation. However, currently I love using the Nikon Z9 and the Nikkor 400mm F 2.8 along with the Nikkor 70-200mm. They are my go to gears.


Image © Aparupa Dey

Retro Kolkata : What are the main challenges that you face as a wildlife photographer?

Aparupa : Making a career through wildlife photography is itself a challenge. And challenges increase especially when you are a female wildlife photographer. Safety and Sanitation always remains a concern. For that you can't delve into the jungle on your own where exotic species live. Alone you can't always go to remote places in pre-dawn or stay till late evening when golden light falls. And even if you do all of them and it's appreciated then many times credit goes to you for becoming a girl and not for doing all the labour. So that's very challenging.


Retro Kolkata : What is the rarest animal you photographed? Are there any on your wish list that you have yet to see?

Aparupa :It has to be the Red-necked Phalarope of Arctic regions, quite a rare bird in India that I shot at Gajoldoba, West Bengal in January 2022. Yes, Himalayan Brown Bear, the critically endangered subspecies is on the top of my list.


Retro Kolkata : What would you say your most remarkable wildlife encounter has been?

Aparupa : Definitely it's the encounter with the Royal Bengal Tiger at Kaziranga. Tiger in Kaziranga is quite rare and we got to witness that in April this year. It was walking straight to us and there was no vehicle nearby either. It's just us and the tiger. Really a mix of emotions of joy and fear.


Image © Aparupa Dey

Retro Kolkata : What are your upcoming travel plans?

Aparupa :I will be going to Nepal on a Red panda expedition and to the Jim Corbett National Park in upcoming days.


Retro Kolkata : What advice would you give to young photographers who are just starting out and considering pursuing a career in wildlife photography?

Aparupa :Wildlife photography is a very money intensive passion. It requires a lot of costly lenses and cameras. Even the tours are not that cheap. So if you enjoy doing wildlife photography I would rather suggest that you keep on enjoying it without sacrificing your study or job. I would definitely suggest completing the studies and engaging yourself somewhere. Earn from there and pursue your passion thereafter. But leaving everything and focusing solely on becoming a wildlife photographer is not recommended.


Image © Aparupa Dey

Retro Kolkata : We (Retro Kolkata) are trying to build one single stage for all the artists, because we believe that artists are the most beautiful creation of God and geographical boundaries can never break their unity and harmony. Please say something about our initiative and any special message for your followers.

Aparupa : That is absolutely fantastic. I have gone through many of your articles and found them very informative. I also came to know about the daunting journey of others and their perspective on life and the form of art they are pursuing.

I would tell my followers that every artist's life journey and perspectives of life are different to one another. You may have your journey to success and somebody will have his own journey to his success. The paths are quite different but the process is quite the same. That is to keep the passion going and follow it through every hardship. And at last you will be where you want to be. So it is important to focus on the moment and make decisions which are fit for the moment. Thank you for your love and support.


 

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