Emerald green taro plants on one side and a menacing, multi-coloured mass of plastic waste on the other on a wetland in Thrikkakara, Kochi, caught 15-year-old Adityakrishna S Menon’s eye. The budding photographer was observing it from his uncle’s 19th floor apartment. Grabbing his uncle’s camera, he clicked a few photographs. “Initially, I focussed on the plastic waste. Then I looked carefully and composed a wide angle shot where the green and the waste showed,” he says.
The image, ‘Choked’, captured in December 2019, won him “first runner up” in the ‘young photographer category’ at a contest organised by Nature inFocus, an online portal for nature travel, wildlife, tourism, photography, and conservation in India.
The photography awards are given away every year in various categories, to entries from across the country.
The prizes were announced on September 1 via a virtual telecast of the ceremony on YouTube. He confesses he didn’t expect an award as this was the first time he had sent in an entry to a contest such as this. Adityakrishna remembers vividly how he felt: “The Special Mentions came first, my name didn’t figure on that list. By the time the second runner up was named... I decided I didn’t make it when my name was announced. I was shocked!” he says. What followed was a flurry of phone calls to his parents, friends, teachers and mentor, wildlife photographer Praveen Mohandas.
Mohandas has been guiding him ever since they met at wildlife photographer Seema Suresh’s home. “Seema ma’am lives in the same building as my uncle. I used to go to her for tips on photography; that’s where I met Praveen sir. We got talking and he shared tips on how to practice. We kept in touch, and he started mentoring me,” he says.
The Class X student of Rajagiri Public School, Kalamassery, has been clicking, with an aim-and-shoot camera, for the last two years. Egging him on is an interest in Nature, wildlife photography and conservation. His subjects have been sights that he sees in and around his home in Vytilla, and trips to other parts of the city. He currently clicks using his Nikon D3400 camera.
His parents have been supportive, “But they want me to qualify with a professional degree and then pursue my passion. I don’t want photography to be just a hobby either, and I understand that in India it is not easy to make a living being a wildlife photographer, but there are fellowships and grants that could work for an aspiring photographer,” he says, as he signs off.