Sharing my interview for Wake Forest Newspaper – Old Gold and Black. Thank you, Shelby Devine for the interview. It was released on last Thursday.
Sophomore Suyash Keshari is a photographer from New Delhi, India and travels around the world capturing incredible images of nature and wildlife.
He uses his talents to raise awareness about the importance of animal conservation, particularly of the tiger, which is an endangered species and his favorite animal to photograph.
Suyash recently won the “Nature’s Best Photography Asia” award, which is the world’s most prestigious nature photography contest. His work will be displayed in the Smithsonian Museum this year.
You are already a very well established photographer, and you’re only a sophomore in college. When and how did you begin photography?
Back when I was three or four years old, my grandfather took me to zoos in eastern India in Kolkata. The zoos had around 50 tigers, all in really small cages. I would look into the cages and stare at the tigers, and I would think of the tigers I saw on TV, like on the National Geographic Channel — those tigers were in wide open spaces, being free, as it should be.
I knew the tigers in the zoo shouldn’t be prisoners. I realized that when I grew up, I wanted to do something for them. I wanted to change their situation. I feel like people should think differently about animals.That’s what attracted me to capturing photos of wildlife — I wanted to change how people looked at animals. I also lived in a town in central India where there were animals all around us, so I was always interested in them. I got my first camera when I was 14, and I’ve been shooting since then.
Where have you traveled to shoot your photos?
I have traveled all over India, and in Canada and Kenya, as well.
My work from Canada is nature and landscape photography, particularly of waterfalls and mountains. It’s such a beautiful country.
In Kenya, I photographed elephants, lions and cheetahs, and documented the migration of wildebeests.
In India, I shoot mostly big cats and the biodiversity of the region.
What are some of your favorite subjects to photograph?
I love to shoot tigers. I have seen about 22 tigers and had over 83 sightings.
It can be hard to get a good shot, because you can’t control the tigers and get them to pose for you — that’s the beauty and the challenge of wildlife photography, because what you get is the real thing. Sometimes you’re given a split second and all you can do is shoot and hope to get a good photograph.
Other times the tiger is around for hours and you can get tons of great shots. Every time it’s the same feeling of amazement when I see a tiger. I actually know all 83 tigers I’ve seen by their stripes and by their names, so I feel a real connection with them.
What is an average day like as a wildlife photographer?
It can be tough, but it’s incredible. We wake up at 3 a.m., leave the lodge at 3:30 a.m., and the first things we do when we get to the shooting location are check our equipment, discuss the movements of the animals so that we have a good chance of getting some good shots and then determine the path we will follow for the day.
I have a driver and a tracker, so it’s a team of three of us going out into the wild in search of these animals. Some days we cover between 30 and 300 miles. A hot cup of quadruple shot coffee is crucial in the morning — it is my lifesaver.We spend all day in the jungle waiting and shooting. Sometimes it gets up to 118 degrees.
We get back around 10 p.m. and clean the cameras, look at the photos, and prepare for the next day, when we will be doing it all over again.
What do you like about photography, and why is it your passion?
I feel like it helps me see the world better. If you can see just a small part of what the world is like through a lens, you can appreciate the rest of the world more without it. My main aim is to educate people about the importance of saving tigers. Tigers are such beautiful and amazing animals. Also, India’s economy depends on the tourism inspired by the tiger, so if it goes extinct, India is in trouble. There are only about 3,000 left in the world, so I hope to use my photos to share my love for the tiger with the world.
Your work is in a Smithsonian museum. How did that happen?
I entered a competition called “Nature’s Best Photography Asia,” which is a huge contest that people from all over the continent submit their photos to in hopes of getting worldwide recognition for their work. The winners get their work displayed in the Smithsonian.
I won for one of my photos of a tiger, and it’s one of my favorite photos I’ve taken. I was so excited when I found out I won — my mom and I were screaming and jumping up and down.
There are 15-20 winners in the whole world, and my photo is actually on the cover for the magazine. I’m going to go see my work on display in the museum and receive the award in November, and I’m really excited.
What are your goals for your work in the future?
After getting my education, I want to start something of my own. I plan on getting into filmmaking and shooting more wildlife photography.
I also want to lead safaris and teach people about wildlife so that I can share my knowledge and experiences with others.
I want to use my photographs to bring about a change. Photos have a huge impact on people, and technology plays a big role in changing the future, so I want my photos and the photos that others take to make a positive difference in the world. That’s my biggest goal.
Suyash Keshari Nature & Wildlife Photography
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