Meet Aishwarya Sridhar, the first Indian female wildlife photographer to win the prestigious Wildlife Photographer of the Year award!

Aishwarya Sridhar hails from Mumbai, and other than just being a wildlife photographer, she is also a writer, filmmaker, and passionate conservationist. 

From getting her first camera at the age of 11 to accompanying her father on his wildlife trips, seeing fireflies in her backyard, to winning an international award for her photography, Aishwarya Sridhar is one of the youngest and the most talented wildlife photographers we have today.

Born and brought up in Panvel, Navi Mumbai, Aishwarya has received the Woman Icon Award 2019 in the Media category for using photography in conservation and the Diana Award 2019 by the Royal House, London. She has also been a speaker with TEDx, a Global Goodwill Ambassador who left us all enchanted with her viral photograph of the fireflies in 2020. “That picture made me feel like I was in a magical dimension. Standing at that point when a million fireflies surrounded me was truly enchanting”, she told Local Samosa.

Aishwarya Sridhar

From planning to become a CA to choosing her hobby as a full-time career

Even though Aishwarya grew up around nature and watching wildlife documentaries on Discovery and Nat Geo Wild, she didn’t think of taking it as a full-time career. In fact, until her 12th, she wanted to become a chartered accountant. “My dad is a CA, and photography was just a hobby for me. But after passing my 12th, I realized I wouldn’t want to do a 9-5 job. Thus, I switched to media and did my graduation in it. Dereck and Beverley Joubert’s work has been my biggest inspiration, so I wanted to do something like them. Later I learned to edit and ventured into wildlife as a career”, she further said.

Today, she is considered one of India’s best female wildlife photographers, and her work has been appreciated globally. She has also been actively involved in environmental conservation and has worked on documentaries about environmental issues our planet faces. “I want to create a stir and change through my work, and even though this field is challenging, I want to move forward. After becoming a Canon EOS Influencer, she said, “I love how they are helping me create images with stories,” she added.

What goes behind the lens?

Imagine standing and waiting for hours and hours to get the perfect shot and still not being sure if you’ll get it. Well, that’s what photographers usually have to deal with, and it can get even more challenging, especially when it comes to wildlife photography. “There’s a lot of pressure to get what you need on the field, working even when you are on your periods, and navigating in a male-dominating industry, it’s all pretty challenging. But the adventure I get to experience and a chance to take a sneak peek into the world of animals beats it all. So, I love it”, she said.

Other than this, a lot of preparation goes behind the camera. If it’s a documentary, a lot of research is needed, which can go on for days. “Finding the locations, pre-visualizing the shots, and knowing what exactly I want. After you come back, the editing needs to be done. But yes, I have an entire gear checklist that I follow before leaving for any project. It’s fine if I haven’t carried the clothes, but I can’t really miss the photography gear (essentials)”, she laughed.

Priceless moments

Photographs are like a return ticket to the past. It wouldn’t be wrong to say a good shot keeps a moment that’s gone. The way photographers capture the beauty around can take you to another world. It can convey a story in unique ways. This becomes even more in-depth for wildlife photographers as it reflects the secrets of nature and the wild.

Recalling one of her recent works where Aishwarya got a chance to capture a very intimate moment of Asiatic lions, she said, “We were in Gujarat and were shooting a particular tribe of Asiatic lions. One of the lionesses had just given birth to a cub. She was about to introduce it to the tribe. The Asiatic lioness usually stays in solitude after giving birth, and they come out after a while. So we were following them and were expecting her to come at any moment. Until that time, I hadn’t seen the cub. So, it felt so special when she appeared with the cub in her mouth and introduced it to the tribe. I’ll always cherish it”, said Aishwarya Sridhar.

Before leaving us with a warm goodbye, Aishwarya mentioned a few tips for budding photographers that can be a great help. ” Follow your heart, take advantage of every opportunity, and participate in the competition, for example, Canon has launched this Superstar campaign for Photography day. Participating will not just give you exposure but you’ll learn as well. And last but not the least, practice as much as you can”, she concluded.

Also Read: In a diving conversation with Sumer Verma, India’s first underwater photographer and cinematographer!

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