From Hobby to Career: Indian Woman Wildlife Photographer

Rathika Ramasamy professional Indian photographer The Way Women Work Rathika Ramasamy gets her kicks from shooting in the wild; though not with guns.

Armed with her camera, she is one of the few successful professional photographers in India today. She is well-known for her striking photos which keenly capture a snapshot of wild animals and birds. Here she talks about pursuing an off-the-beaten-track career.

You were working as a software engineer earlier. How did the transition to a wildlife photographer happen?    

RR: After my marriage, I moved to Delhi. I started photography as a hobby and became passionate about it. I was first doing travel photography, and then in 2004, I started with wildlife photography. It is not easy to take up a field that is very different from one’s education, but I wanted to pursue what I was passionate about.


Lion on a Tree

Given the number of amateur photographers, what does it mean to be a professional photographer today? What distinguishes a professional from an amateur?

RR: Professional photographer means you get paid for your work; you sell your work on various mediums like magazines, agency, prints and commissioned shoots. As a pro you have to keep up high quality work, as you are paid for your shoot, and later you plan to sell your work. The work should reflect passion, your own style and quality.

With the advent of digital technology, there are many more amateur photographers today. It is good to see many people into photography; I don’t think of it is competition as there is lots work for everyone. This trend should be encouraged – after all most of the professionals today were amateurs once. I do get to see some amazing work from amateur photographers.

Being a professional freelance photographer is not only about photography; it is combination of photography plus marketing your work to prospective clients, knowing the latest trends in the industry etc. One should have a great body of work to showcase and have their own online portfolio website and a good network of clients with whom you work regularly.

White-throated Kingfisher (Halcyon smyrnensis)

White-throated Kingfisher (Halcyon smyrnensis)

Professional female wildlife photographers are quite rare, especially in India. Do you think being a woman is challenging in this field?

RR: I don’t think as a woman I find any difficulties; wildlife photography is a tough job, there will be lots of practical constraints. But if you have a will, then definitely you can overcome them. Camera and animals are not gender biased! 

Read the full interview on Women’s Web, by Anne John. All photos credit Rathika Ramasamy.