A photograph is worth a thousand words. And to celebrate this monumental art of visual storytelling, World Photography Day is observed on August 19. The day is held in reverence of the viewfinder that shows a version of the world, which the naked eye is incapable of comprehending.
The day marks the official invention of the daguerreotype, developed by Louis Daguerre, in 1839.
On this World’s Photography Day, 29-year-old Mainak Das shared his journey of realising his passion for photography in 2011 to being a wildlife photographer.
A public servant based out of Kolkata, Mainak is an ardent nature lover and has contributed his art to renowned publications including Nat Geo Yourshot, BBC Earth, Nature In Focus among others.
When did you first realise your interest in photography?
It was back sometime in mid-2011 when I had started clicking random photos inside my college campus and those started coming off pretty amazing. Encouraging myself to persuade this newfound interest and skill, in a year or so I was sure to follow up on this passionately.
What is the earliest memory you associate with photography?
My earliest memory around photography would probably be those college days when I would go around clicking random objects and people; earning a good amount of praise and confidence. I had no dedicated camera back then and would put my Nokia N79 to its best use as photography gear.
A photographer whom you treat as an inspiration.
It's always Dhritiman Mukherjee, one of the most respected nature, wildlife and conservation photographers from India inspiring people towards conservation with his photography. Next would be my elder brother, Atanu Bandyopadhyay who inspires me. And to name a few others, I would say David Lloyd, Nick Brandt and Paul Nicklen.
Tell us the story from your most interesting capture...
It was my last trip to Buxa Tiger Reserve, North Bengal, before the lockdown hit us all. One afternoon, we had decided to visit the riverbed to photograph the roosting Pratincoles and other migratory waders. Suddenly, I remember seeing a huge thing flying towards us and I immediately looked through my binoculars and what I saw had literally blown my mind. It was a huge Male Wreathed Hornbill, one of the rarest of the hornbills found in India. It was the fifth hornbill I spotted and in India, there are a total of 9 such hornbills. I've seen many wild, but this will be etched in my mind forever.
People say photography is a very expensive hobby. Thoughts?
It certainly depends on what you click and how much you travel to click. Yes, it's definitely expensive even if I'm not considering the gear cost.
Where do you see yourself as a photographer five years from now?
Given the uncertain times, we’re presently surviving, whenever I get the opportunity, I would visit the Maasai Mara National Reserve, Kenya and Iceland and stay there. Apart from being a wildlife photographer, I truly enjoy photographing landscapes.
What camera do you possess?
I'm an ardent Nikon user, I've Nikon D850, Nikon D500, Nikon D7200 in my arsenal.
On the occasion of World Photography Day 2020, a message you'd like to share with the new entrants to the field?
There's a difference in clicking pictures and pursuing photography passionately (professionally or otherwise). Learning photography doesn't happen overnight and once it’s in you, it’s a never-ending process. There will be times when you fail the perfect captures but the motto is to never lose hope, and never stop practicing.