As visitors dropped in at the exhibition in Government Museum, Egmore, on a reticent, almost surreal, Sunday morning, walking them through vivid frames showing wildlife at its best was an unexpected guide — 10-year-old budding wildlife photographer Vishwak Shenon V.
The 250-odd photographs belonging to the student of Vaels Billabong High International School were exhibited along with winning entries of a drawing competition organised by the museum as part of its Children’s Day celebrations.
From insects such as grasshoppers to birds such as the Indian courser and animals such as elephants, the exhibition took one on a journey across the country.
“Birds are the hardest to photograph,” said the aspiring photographer, who got hold of a professional camera, by chance, during a trip to Vedanthangal bird sanctuary, when he was eight years old.
His mother Ajitha Velmurugan, who runs Chennai Film Industrial School, said her sons accompanied her when the students of her institute were taken on field trips.
“What began with taking pictures of family members, soon turned into a full-fledged hobby for him,” she said. Vishwak then started attending photography classes after school hours at his mother’s institute.
Along with his father P. Velmurugan, who works at MGR Government Film and Television Training Institute, Vishwak said he had travelled to places such as Bandipur National Park, Bharatpur Bird Sanctuary, the Nilgiris, and Jim Corbett National Park, apart from Pallikaranai and Pulicat, closer home.
He vividly remembers the first time he sighted a tiger. “It was in Nagarhole. Half of our trip was complete, and we were really looking forward to spotting a tiger. It was so majestic,” he said, pointing to the tiger’s photograph.
Still a student, this Indian Forest Service aspirant said he was constantly learning. Wildlife photography, said the young student, had taught him to be patient.
“I take photographs and come back to books by Salim Ali and Richard Grimmett. Even if I do not know what species it is, I photograph it and learn about it when I come back. It might be a rare sighting,” he said.
Vishwak spoke most fondly of his interactions with Pal Pandi, the bird-watcher at Koonthankulam in Tamil Nadu. “Now, I am interested in photographing insects. I found some around my grandmother’s house in Nagercoil,” he said.
A museum official said, at a function held on November 13 at the museum, Vishwak was recognised for his work along with students who won the drawing and oratorical competition conducted in October.