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Camera for a Cause

When he is not juggling files, he is out in the wild. Meet Vivek Singh, district food marketing officer in the food and civil supplies department of UP, a self taught wildlife photographer, who shoots the wild, but with his camera.


A  chance  visit  to  the Bandhavgarh national park  at  the  insistence  of  his  daughter  during the Easter holidays of 2007 sparked off a mission of a lifetime for him. In those days when internet was not the obvious source of primary information, one of his daughter's friends visited  Bandhavgarh national park and her insistence for a similar trip landed him in tigers’ own country. The mesmerizing encounter with the majestic tigers of the park propelled him to think of bringing the magic of wild and the message of conservation to the larger  audience.  Photography  was  the  obvious  choice  to  bring  this  magic  home,  says Vivek. A nature lover to the core, he has been concerned with issues of nature and conservation from an early age. He was the editor of the school magazine on environmental issues and instrumental in forming a group of nature lovers for conservation cause in the college.

Meeting ace Nat Geo Photographer Kalyan Varma helped Vivek crystallize the vision and he took to wildlife photography seriously four years back, to bring forth the beauty of the wild and the message of conservation through his lens. His love for nature and photography and a burning desire to preserve the fast vanishing biodiversity of India in particular, made him take up wildlife photography as a mission. I discovered purpose of my life, says he. The Crying need for the preservation of the rich and diverse fauna and flora of the country requires awareness of the issues in the first place, believes Vivek.  And none  other  than  the  tiger,  the  national  animal  of  India,  fits  as  the symbol of his conservation efforts. Sitting at the very top of the food chain, the fast dwindling population of the tigers worries him. With less than 2000 left in the wild, we are in real danger of losing this magnificent animal forever. And if the tiger goes,  forest  goes,  warns  Vivek,  quoting  from  the  Udyogparva  of  Mahabharata-"the  tiger protects the forest and the forest natures the tiger".
       

He uses canon 7D Mk 2 camera canon 5D Mk 4 and canon 100-400 remains his favorite lens for shooting wildlife though  occasionally  he  also  uses  70-200mm/2.8  and  300mm/2.8  prime  lens. For street &travel canon 16-35/2.8.  Travelling  extensively  Vivek has covered almost all the well-known national parks of India with Bandhavgarh in MP and Ranthambhore in Rajsthan being his favorite. Shooting with some of the finest names in Indian wildlife photography like Kalyan Varma, Sudhir Shivram & Aditya Singh has given me an insight that helps him feel the jungle from the heart. He believes wildlife photography can prove immensely challenging as you do not have control over all the three crucial components of a good photograph-light, subject and the situation. It can prove to be emotionally draining and physically challenging experience and one must be ready to toil hard in the field and expect the unexpected. A deep understanding of the subject helps you connect with it and thereby  bring  to  your  pictures  an  emotional  feel  with  which  the  reader  can  immediately identify. His work is put on exhibit regularly in India and he has also held  two exhibitions abroad He publishes his work regularly online on various social media platforms.He is also mentoring one of the largest online photography group Camerena academy and is admin of DSLR group.


Vivek  has  his  priorities  set.  What  as  a  citizen  can  we  do  to  redeem  the  dwindling forests and vanishing fauna? He points out that most of us think that preserving nature, preventing deforestation and reducing man-animal conflict are all issues related to government and hence individual initiatives are  pointless.  He  finds  this  perception  totally  erroneous.  An  active  and  informed  citizen  alone  can ensure that India's wildlife is preserved for posterity. As a first step visit the national park near you, says he.  The  visit  will  not  only  open  one  to  the  magnificence  of  Mother  Nature  and  educate  about the conservation  needs  but  also  generate  the  much  needed  revenue  for  the  purpose.  A vigilant tourist inflow  will  also  help  check  the  illegal  nexus  of  corrupt  officials  and  poachers. As with any other issue, conservation  of  wildlife  especially  tigers  need  to  be  tackled  through  the  tool  of  education. Quoting Rudyard Kipling, Vivek insists that the jungle speaks to one who knows how to listen to it. His only worry is time. Time is running out. It's now or never. Can we do it for our kids? asks he. A transfer to the adjoining district of Varanasi brought him closer to the magic of street photography as he  started  documenting  the  life  &  times  of  this  most  ancient  city  on  earth  but  wildlife  photography remains  his  primary  passion.Vivek  considers  himself  to  be  the  first  generation  product  of  the  social media revoltion.Says he-it was simply impossible for a person like me to take up wildlife photography sitting  in  a  small  town  of  UP.But  social  media  platforms  like  facebook,twitter  and  flicker has given an opportunity to learn from the masters of the art,sitting at home.In fact he loves to be called a "facebook photographer".

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