Inspiring and Award winning Wildlife Photographer – Varun Thakkar

Wildlife Photography is a fascinating and adventurous career option, however, getting started is sometimes confusing and challenging. Wild Alerts brings to you the most inspiring interview with Varun Thakkar, a businessman turned into a wildlife photographer. Let’s go through the interesting journey of Varun Thakkar who has widely documented the big cats, their behaviour and their habitat. He has been fortunate to have photographed more than 300 tigers which earns him the title of being a ‘good luck’ when it comes to the Tiger sightings.

Varun Thakkar – Self-introduction (place, childhood, academics)

I was born and brought up in Nagpur, a city blessed with pristine wildlife habitats all around. I am an entrepreneur by profession and based in Nagpur, Maharashtra. I have done my Bachelors in Computer Applications from Hislop College, Nagpur.

How were you introduced to wildlife?

The ‘call of the wild’ for me was back in 2005s-2007s when I first held the camera. Since then there has been no looking back for me. I escape to the wild whenever I can and however I can. I have had the good fortune of photographing 300+ individual tigers across India along with many rare and beautiful flora and fauna across the continent and Africa.

A Decade old Image which won Varun Thakkar a few National and International Awards and worldwide recognition

Which places are explored by you?

I have had the opportunity of exploring the mammalian and birdlife of the pristine Central Indian jungles, the glorious Himalayas, and the wild African landscapes.

Any platform can teach you to ‘take’ a picture but its your talent, creativity and a perspective by which you ‘make’ a picture

What role do you play to contribute to wildlife conservation and protection?

I wish to inspire minds to take a moment and think about the world we are living into, its different facets, the magnificent diversity, the colours of nature, and the incredible heritage we have around us. I feel my images aware young minds and people to ponder about the aesthetic value of the jungles and our incredible animals, their habitat and their survival issues. We can only conserve if we know and I try my best to spread the awareness through my images of habitat, animal behavior and possible threats.

What is your primary source of income?

My primary source of income is my business. We are one of the oldest and most trusted in the field of insurance since 1956.

Do you think that Wildlife can be a full-time profession?

Yes it can be chosen as a full time profession if you start working as a photography mentor or a tour operator.

Ant eye view of Big Male Elephant.
“Think differently and bring in a fresh and different perspective while making images”

What are your future plans? 

I want to explore the less explored part of Indian wildlife. I believe that wildlife is a field of uncertainty; therefore I never plan anything and let things pan out as they do.

Top tips that you would like to give to the budding wildlifers.

I would advice them to be different and think differently and bring in a fresh and different perspective while making images.

What training and training platforms will you suggest to beginners go through before they pursue their passion in Wildlife?

There is no platform which makes you a better photographer. Any platform can teach you to ‘take’ a picture but its your talent, creativity and a perspective by which you ‘make’ a picture. I would advice the beginners to click, make mistakes and keep clicking till you ‘make’ a picture.

Photographers are best judged by the pictures you see.
No one knows the amount of effort involved in making a good Picture.

Do you go through dry spells of no luck in the jungle and any advice on the same?

Yes, I have had many many empty safaris but I do not get disappointed.  Just being in the jungle is mystic and a stress buster. There is life all around.  I can only think of the mystery of the jungle which teaches us to never stop searching, never lose hope, master animal behavior, understand one’s surroundings as also to never expect. On the contrary, it is also true that no one can master the secrets of the jungle, we can merely pick up a few signs and keep exploring. The jungle never fails to fascinate me every time I go, no matter how many years it has been! ‘’Never expect and never stop exploring”.

Just being in the jungle is mystic and a stress buster. There is life all around.

What are your achievements so far? 

Out of 1,12,268 photographers from 172 Countries, 3,92,000 Photographs submitted. Varun made it to top 150 photographers of the world, Top 100 in wildlife nomination, Top 35 in India. – “35 Awards 4th International Photography Award, Moscow, Russia.”
  • Awarded 1st prize in a National level competition organized by VED and PANCAN in 2012.
  • Awarded 2nd prize in a National level competition organized by J B College Wardha in 2012.
  • Awarded 2nd prize competition organized by Maharashtra State forest department in 2012.
  • Awarded 1st prize at an international wildlife photography competition in Germany in 2011.
  • Awarded as best viewers choice picture at a wildlife photography competition in France in 2013.
  • Awarded 2nd prize competition organized by Maharashtra State Government and forest department in 2014.
  • Calendar Cover for Sanctuary Asia magazine.
  • A 10 Page co-authored cover story published in the October issue of Sanctuary Asia magazine.
  • Winner in Nature in Focus, Banglore. 2015
  • Runner up in Nature in Focus, Banglore 2015
  • BBC Photojournalism, Finalist 2016
  • Multiple awards in Online competitions organized by various organizations.
  • Awarded as a Runner Up in Nature In Focus, Banglore 2017.
  • Felicitated for excellence in wildlife photography on World photography day in 2018 in Chandrapur, Maharashtra.
  • Official contributor for Discovery Channels social Media Pages in 2019.
  • Awarded as a Special Mention in NiF, Banglore 2020.
  • Reached the final round of The Greatest Masai Mara Photographer of the year.

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