Bhargava Srivari, who has won the Licentiateship of the Royal Photographic Society, talks about his avocation

If there is one thing Bhargava Srivari is thankful for, it is his family’s holiday tradition. Every year, the Srivari family goes to jungle resorts and in this way, Bhargava fostered his penchant for wildlife. He has had his pictures published in Save Us and other wildlife magazines He has just added to his growing list of achievements the Licentiateship of the Royal Photographic Society. The Royal Photography Society was formed in 1853 to promote the art and science of photography, and the licentiateship is the first of the Society’s many levels of distinction. It is awarded either for competence in practical photography or for passing an examination recognised by the Society. “I submitted 15 pictures that are a part of my portfolio,” says Bhargava. “The pictures should depict behaviour, an aspect or the habitat with regard to an animal. There are other categories, too.” Bhargava is the only Indian out of the 200-odd applicants to have won the licentiateship this year.

When he isn’t shooting pictures, Bhargava works as a software engineer. Does he ever want his avocation to become his vocation? “Not right now, there is still time for that,” he says. Just three months into his job, Bhargava feels blessed to have a workplace that lets him take off for a quick break into the jungles every so often.

For this 21-year-old, it began with observing animals as a hobby. “I eventually realised that I should start taking pictures,” says Bhargava. He started out with an entry-level DSLR and worked on his skill before firing the big guns. “It’s always good to learn a few basics before you upgrade to a better body and lens system,” he feels. He has met Sudhir Shivaram, Praveen Siddhanavar and other wildlife photographers on his jungle trips. Bhargava is dedicated to documenting animals and their behaviour through his pictures and has visited almost all the wildlife sanctuaries in the country. “I saw my first tiger in Ranthambore. It was really exciting. After I saw my first tiger, there was no turning back,” says Bhargava, who spotted more than 40 tigers last year. “Every time you spot a tiger, it’s like your first time.” He is wary of elephants. “You never know what ticks an elephant off and the trumpeting is unbearable and quite scary,” he says. Wildlife photography is tough, claims Bhargava. Along with the right equipment, you have to go with an eye for detail. “You have to figure out how to track your subject and you should do your homework on animal behaviour,” he says.

Bhargava believes that photographers have helped the cause of wildlife conservation. “A photograph is also a way to tag animals non-intrusively. No tiger has the same spots, it’s a good way to keep track,” he says. He wishes the opportunities to work in the jungles would go to those who are eager for them. “It is unfortunate that you write a meaningless exam to get these jobs,” he laments.

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