Mr. PK Raja
Mr P K Raja is a wildlife photographer by hobby and is an IT entrepreneur by profession. He has a relentless zeal for wildlife photography and has been part of Royal Belum Hornbill Expedition team in 2017, to study 10 different types of Hornbills in Royal Belum forest, the oldest rainforest of the world. Representatives from nearly 17 countries have attended this expedition.
He says “The diversity of nature’s creation has always perplexed me. My curiosity to know more has driven me to take up photo expeditions for past one year. We had a successful Masai Mara tour with 16-member team and plans to go to Borneo, Sulawesi Papua Uganda and couple of unknown areas in next two years. The idea is to record and create a consolidated knowledge base for future.”
We interviewed Mr P K Raja regarding his interesting journey as a wildlife photographer and below given are excerpts from that interview.
1) Tell us something about you and how you developed an interest in photography?
To me as a young boy, my dad creating an image of a “WOW” moment using a device fascinated me. My Dad had a Zeiss Ikon Camera and it was my first introduction to camera in my life. It was totally manual. You go by an estimate of focal length and exposure settings and just click. Then you take the roll to dark room to make “negative film” and then a print called “Positive” to know what you have taken. No immediate previews and you see your images days after you finish clicking the film roll. And they were all in black and white. During those days, photography for me was fun and in rush of my career somewhere I got disconnected from it. Around 5 years back I was detected with diabetes and doctor said morning walk is essential and I should find ways to not take stress. Morning walks were boring and that inspired me to buy a DSLR and photography came back to my life again. Photography was my stress buster and that one hour in mornings with my camera was fully mine. I realised that this is what I enjoy the most!
Ulsoor lake, its Cormorants and Herons were my subjects and I enjoyed watching them and understanding them and their behaviour. And social media gave me a platform to share those shots and moments, which represented my understanding of their behaviour.
Ulsoor lake was also a test bed for me. The DSLR was not the same any more. It had many features and photography had matured far beyond what it was 25 years back. I had to go through a relearning! But it was all fun. And I think this is the best thing that happened in my life.
2) What are the various types of photography you indulge in?
Wildlife, primarily birds and mammals are my area of interest. When I started, I photographed anything and everything around. But this taught me the importance of perspectives in photography as a storyteller. Slowly I discovered that wildlife is something that fascinated me.
The diversity in nature, colours and variety of birds and animals, their intricate relationship and role in ecosystem generated my interest in wildlife. I can spend days in forest or wilderness to get a unique action shot of an animal or bird in its natural habitat (even if it’s a crow), which might depict its not so common trait or highlight something which we may not notice on a day to day basis. And I think this is what brings the connect with viewer, generate curiosity, takes him from Incognito to Cognito and integrate common man to the importance of conservation of wildlife.
3) What is the inspiration that keeps you going?
Whenever I know something new about birds or animals w.r.t their behaviour or role in nature I am drawn to record those “wow” moments and share it with the world. And it is this curiosity to know more about them is my inspiration. This challenge to get that “wow” moment keeps me going.
4) How do you feel when your work is viewed and appreciated by a large audience?
In simple words, it gives me enormous satisfaction, sense of honour and happiness. It keeps me motivated and inspires me to keep doing better. And also, it reaffirms the path I have chosen.
5) Tell us about photography and its inception?
Basic need to treasure moments and people led to discovery of camera and photography. It started with sketches and painting, and as the tools and technology evolved, the automation and mechanisation gave it today’s shape as photography. And the need for visual communication made it an industry in itself.
6) What, according to you, is photography and how do you perceive it?
Photography is a visual script to present my perspective of nature and wildlife. If frame is the paper, light and shade is the grammar of the script, and the subject the theme of the story, I see photography as a medium to depict my version of romance with wildlife and nature.
7) Please share some of your achievements in the photography profession.
One award that I cherish to date is the one I had got in college for a black & white photograph that I had taken using a fully manual film roll camera of 1980s and printed it myself in the dark room.
And what I treasure the most is when somebody looks at my image and says, I came to know something new about birds and animals from your photograph.
Invitation by Malaysian Tourism Department to be part of their Royal Belum Hornbill Expedition team in 2017, to study 10 different types of Hornbills in Royal Belum, the oldest rainforest of the world, is something I consider an honour. It had representatives from 17 countries.
Few photographs of mine were also picked up by NatGeo, Koodu, NBPA, and few other magazines. My photographs have also been exhibited in Japan and Egypt.
8) Tell us something about the photography community you belong to.
My photography community is a closed group of like-minded friends who are passionate wildlife photographers.
I am the Co-founder of a wildlife-based Facebook community, World of Wildlife (WOW). It is a group where wildlife photographers and enthusiasts can share their shots or opinions and can discuss on wildlife subject or wildlife photography.
9) Tell us about the general response you receive in exhibitions.
There have been good footfalls depending on the location. People had been curious and inquisitive. I would say it’s been encouraging. For me, may be some awareness and knowledge being shared.
10) What do you think about the scope of Photography in the modern Digital world?
A picture paints a thousand words!
Digital technology has made creation and publishing of visual story affordable and simpler. Availability of information about destination has become easier. You can easily publish your work on social media platforms and reach a wide array of people across the globe. I think digital media opens up a huge potential for visual medium. Image creation will play a central role in communications in the future.
11) How do you feel about your association with Honeycomb creative support?
Honeycomb has a team of humble professionals and has always been very co-operative with photographers. I think they put the extra efforts to understand the photographer’s perspective and feel of the image before it goes for the print. This makes them distinct among others.
12) What are your future plans and dreams?
Professionally I am an IT entrepreneur. Wildlife and wildlife photography have been my passion. I Wish that my passion can be my profession.
Participating in Royal Belum Hornbill Expedition in 2017 to study 10 species of Hornbills along with delegates from 17 countries gave me the fillip to co-found World of Wildlife (WOW) and wowXplore with friend Mr. Subramannyian Mani who has devoted himself to wildlife and wildlife photography. The vision of WOW is to provide a platform to the wildlife Photographers, Bloggers and/or any wildlife Knowledge seekers to share their learnings and findings.
Presently WOW/wowXplore organises Eco Tour expeditions to various places with species-specific objectives to promote knowledge about various species and its importance in ecosystem. In short span WOW has conducted photo expeditions to Maasai Mara and Malaysia. Borneo, Sulawesi, Papua Uganda in plans for 2019 – 2020.
In the future, we also have an idea of developing a research entity on conservation and preservation of wildlife.