Bird Photographers
of India



























Arun P. Singh

Clement Francis M.

Dhritiman Mukherjee

Ganesh H Shankar

Jayanth Sharma

Joanna Van Gruisen

Kalyan Varma

Mohanram Kemparaju

Nayan Khanolkar

Nikhil Devasar

Niranjan Sant

Rajneesh Suvarna


Rathika Ramasamy

Sachin Rai

Subharghya Das

Sujan Chatterjee

Suresh V S

Vijay Cavale

Vijay Mohan Raj

Adesh Shivkar (P)

Sudhir Shivaram (P)

(P) - Panelist



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A tribute to the top Indian bird photographers


© Sumit Sen
Brown-headed Gull  ~ by Sumit Sen, Editor

Niranjan Sant I Arun P Singh I Vijay Cavale I Nayan Khanolkar I Nikhil Devasar I

Dhritiman Mukherjee I Joanna Van Gruisen I Ganesh H Shankar I Vijay Mohan Raj I

Jayanth Sharma I Clement Francis M I Mohanram Kemparaju I Sujan Chatterjee I

Sudhir Shivaram I Suresh VS I Rathika Ramasamy I Subharghya Das I Sachin Rai I

Adesh Shivkar I Ramki I Kalyan Varma I Rajneesh Suvarna

Birds 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 pioneer.

Bikram 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.

The next 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 - 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.

What 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.

Talented 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........

Viewing 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.

Tip: i) Pressing 'NEXT' on each page will take you on a round tour of the entire exhibition.
      ii) Email addresses replace @ with _at_ to restrict automated spammers.
     iii) Best viewed at 1024x768 screen resolution.

Editor's notes: 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 author), Sudhir Shivaram (bird photographer and digital processing expert) and 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 names 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 check back!

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 and fairness.

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

 20,000 views in 2 years


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