of India celebrates the diverse talent of contemporary Indian
bird-photographers through a selected presentation of their work.
Specialized bird photography in India has a fairly recent history. There
are a few legends like Loke Wan Tho - ornithologist and a wealthy Malaysian with business
interests in Singapore who spent time in India, during the war, in the
company of Salim Ali, photographing our birds. Malcolm MacDonald,
British High Commissioner to India from 1955 to 1960, published two
photographic volumes Birds in My Indian Garden and Birds in the Sun in
the early sixties. The latter included photographs by ornithologist Christina Loke,
Loke Wan Tho’s 2nd wife.
There were certainly some great Indian wildlife photographers who
occasionally also photographed birds and their ranks include stalwarts
like M Krishnan, E Hanumantha Rao, M. Y. Ghorpade and others.
Outstanding wildlife photographers like Rajesh Bedi, Kailash Sankhala, Vivek Sinha
and many others followed them. But again the focus was on mammals with
bird images playing second fiddle. Most images that appeared in print
media were either shot at nests or at water-bodies, The Sarus Crane
prevailed over a Myzornis. Perhaps, this was due to the specialized
nature of bird photography which requires fast camera, fast and long
lens and fast medium - all of which was difficult to get in India till
the turn of the century. Be that as it may, Indian bird photographers
were few and far between and those who took it up as a passion went
unheralded and unnoticed due to lack of appropriate exposure. Mention
may be made of Otto Pfister, a Swiss national who lived in India for
many years photographing our birds. Joanna Van Gruisen was also an early
Grewal turned bird photography in India upside down by publishing his much-acclaimed photographic guide to the Birds of the India in 1993. For
the first time the works of Krupakar-Senani, Thakur Dalip Singh, Lt. Gen
R K Gaur, E Hanumantha Rao, Rishad Naoroji, Sunjoy Monga and others
found outlet in a local book devoted only to birds (even though
international photographers still dominated the pages). This popular
book ignited photographic interest in the subject and a whole host of
new bird photographers were born in India.
major fillip to Indian bird photography was delivered with the advent of
Internet. Here was a medium, which could be accessed by millions for
sharing and viewing independently. No longer was it necessary to hold
expensive exhibitions or wait eternally for a publisher to print your
images- you could share it instantly and for free (almost).
Simultaneously, the Indian economy witnessed its 1st boom creating
opportunities for talented amateurs to peruse their passion with the aid
of competitive tools. Thus was born Vijay Cavale's path-breaking website
- indiabirds.com. Vijay's website was completely dedicated to bird
photography in India and his amazing talent with the camera brought our
birds home to all and sundry as they had never been seen before. The
outfall was inevitable - more and more people took inspiration and
dedicated their spare time to the pursuit of a thrilling hobby and
e-groups focused on bird photography started proliferating.
finally brought Indian bird photography to age was the advent of digital
photographic technology. Suddenly things changed. No longer were we
constrained by poor equipment and accessories - the digital revolution
created a level playing field almost overnight and Indian bird
photography has not looked back since then.
photographers with the latest equipment have embraced bird photography
with passion and energy demonstrating artistic ability and skill to
match the best. Witness the masterpieces selected by the photographers
themselves in the following pages........
order: The photographers have been randomly distributed but
each profile page has an alphabetical list on the right hand panel, with
the panelists bringing up the rear.
Pressing 'NEXT' on each page will take you on a round tour of the
ii) Email addresses replace @ with _at_ to
restrict automated spammers.
iii) Best viewed at 1024x768 screen resolution.
The selection of photographers for a
presentation like this one can only be contentious despite our best
effort. It is not so much about who gets selected, certainly most select
themselves, but more about who is left out due to ignorance or oversight
or for any other reason.
To limit bias and to choose the most visible of the contemporary Indian bird photographers, a panel drawn from three corners of India was
chosen. The panelists were
Bikram Grewal (eminent birder, publisher and
Sudhir Shivaram (bird photographer and digital processing
Adesh Shivkar (naturalist and bird photographer). The
selection guidelines gave weightage for presence in print and web
medium, made allowances for the emerging talent, and
stressed on consistency over time. It also recognized those who captured
difficult species well.
The three panelists submitted their independent choice of 20
contemporary photographers whose work had impressed them most. These
were collated and the editor decided to invite two contributions from all those
who met the cut-off. Fortunately, most of the selected photographers
could be reached with happy results. Given the short start up time it
was inevitable that some could not be contacted and some others were not
in a position to respond in time. The loss is ours and we plan to update
the presentation with the missing photographs at our earliest. So do
It would be fair to
say that the process overlooked some
top photographers who are not active on the internet and have not
contributed to recent printed work. This is not reflective of their
quality - but is rather a reflection of the constraints faced by the
panelists who were given a thankless task which they handled with grace
The selection of photographers for this section is intended to be
dynamic, as it should be. Birds of India will soon get together a panel
which will recommend new names for addition. We hope that a continuation
of this process will not only correct errors but also enrich this
presentation section by showcasing the work of some more artists.
Sumit K. Sen