Spots n Stripes: how this travel company combines wildlife tours and photo exhibitions


In this photo essay, we feature highlights from Spots n Stripes' wildlife photography exhibition at Karnataka Chitrakala Parishath, along with insights from co-founder Shiva Kumar Natarajan.

PhotoSparks is a weekly feature from YourStory, with photographs that celebrate the spirit of creativity and innovation. In the earlier posts, we featured an art festival, cartoon gallery. world music festivaltelecom expomillets fair, climate change expo, wildlife conference, startup festival, Diwali rangoli, and jazz festival.

Vijay Raghavan and Shiva Kumar Natarajan, both with twin passions of wildlife and photography, founded Spots n Stripes as a wildlife photography and travel company in December 2016. “Our major aim is to unravel the mysteries of the wild and share it with others who are equally passionate about wildlife. We believe in learning and sharing our knowledge with the world,” said Shiva Kumar Natarajan, in a chat with YourStory.

He sees photography as a “magnifying glass” that captures the photographer’s emotions in a universal language. “I spent many years in the lap of Himalayas and was fortunate to photograph its beauty and floral life. When I realised the power of photography, I switched to wildlife photography to spread awareness about the beauty, importance and necessity of wildlife,” Shiva adds.

“Photography is a field where one needs to work from the bottom of the heart. It gives great mental peace and satisfaction when done with the love and passion,” he enthuses. Shiva feels mobile phones have been a boon to the field of photography, but people can get much more out of it by studying image concepts, camera equipment, and ethics of nature photography.

“Success for us is in increasing awareness among people about wildlife. It even states in our constitution that it is the fundamental duty of every Indian citizen to protect and improve the natural environment,” Shiva explains.

Meaningful and impactful photos can document a species or habitat, and promote wildlife protection. Photographs can transmit ideas and projects of conservation even faster and more effectively than words, according to Shiva.

He also offers a number of tips for photographers. “Any camera is a good camera and it’s the photographer’s vision that is very vital. Photography is no longer a costly hobby. Expert guidance, group discussion from like-minded people, and constant practice are key to improve photography skills,” he advises.

Tour costs vary from Rs 15,000 to Rs 45,000. The group has organised wildlife trips across India, to Tadoba Andhari Tiger Reserve in Maharashtra; Bhandavgarh and Kanha National Parks in Madhya Pradesh; Ranathombore Tiger Reserve in Rajasthan; Kaziranga National Park in Assam; Jim Corbett Tiger Reserve, Sattaal and Pangot bird reserves in Uttarakhand; bird trips at Thattekad and Munnar in Kerala; and Karnataka’s wildlife parks in Kabini and Bandipur.

Wildlife photography is not just about clicking big cats – there are many creative possibilities of framing and visualisation in what are regarded as common subjects as well. This calls for a lot of patience, Shiva cautions.

Spots n Stripes has also had fundraising photo exhibitions at Karnataka Chitrakala Parishath, as shown in this photo essay. Photos were priced at Rs 3,000 and the funds were given to Rotary West, Bangalore for their upcoming projects. “We have conducted workshops, and hosted shows in many schools and education institutions to create awareness in young minds,” Shiva proudly adds.

Wildlife photographers have even more responsibility as they work as ambassadors for wildlife, as compared to those who visit national parks only occasionally. “Ethical and responsible approaches by a photographer set higher standards for all,” Shiva signs off.

Now what have you done today to step out of your busy digital life and channel some of your passion to preserving our precious wildlife?

Vijay Raghavan and Shiva Kumar Natarajan

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