What makes a wildlife photographer click : Pradeep Ravi

At Light and Life Academy, we teach various specialized fields of photography. It’s fascinating to see how each of our students forge their own paths with this knowledge and progress in their careers. In our series Alumni Connect, we look back at some of these stories.

This story is about Pradeep Ravi, a Chennai-based wildlife photographer and LLA Batch 2012-13 alumnus.

Bitten by the wildlife bug

The seeds of Pradeep’s wildlife obsession were sown at a very young age. He grew very fond of animals even as a child. The transition from being an animal lover to photographing them happened organically when he took up the camera. The story goes that while doing his Professional Photography course in LLA, Ooty, no matter what type of assignment, Pradeep would find a way to interpret it using wildlife. He says he must have done no less than 400 safaris in Bandipur during that time.

Wild Tales

After completing the course, Pradeep has traveled far and wide, from Mudumalai to Masai Mara with that same passion intact. He gushes as he talks about some of his most memorable moments: like that time he went up on a hot air balloon in Masai Mara and witnessed a cheetah kill. He watched the breathtaking sight of the cheetah and its prey forming beautiful patterns on the grasslands during the chase from an aerial perspective.

His favourite place on earth: Corbett. He cannot forget this one incident while staying in Dhikla inside Corbett. His group just kept missing a tiger sighting all day by a whisker. At one point they came across a macaque right on top giving an alarm call while looking straight down at them. Pradeep says he just had this instinctive feeling that the tiger was nearby. So while the rest moved ahead he stayed at that spot. 10 minutes later, out of the bushes comes the tiger.

Whether it’s observing a tigress teach her cub to stalk or photographing lions close up with a wide angle lens, Pradeep is always looking for interesting behaviour to better understand the animal. He says that in every picture there’s special connect between the photographer and the subject and an understanding of each other.

The long and winding road

Through the years, Pradeep has dabbled in various sub genres of wildlife photography. There have been times with very little success and great hurdles but that’s a natural part of the journey, he says. Wildlife as a career remains not very lucrative until you get international recognition which could take many years. Pradeep says it’s important to understand that and be prepared to have a dual career. After graduating from Light and Life Academy, Pradeep did a few Industrial/ Architecture shoots and portraits before he joined his family business.

What kept him going through the ups and downs? The fact that nature always threw up these wonderful moments and put a dream shot in his lap. He talks about one particular moment in the beautiful landscapes of Masai Mara, with two lions mating in front of a spectacular sunset. Everything was perfect. The emotion of the moment, the lighting and the timing.

To all of those budding wildlife photographers out there, he says that if that passion is there, there will be a way you will figure out how to keep fueling it.

The trail ahead

Currently, Pradeep is in the early stages of starting his own venture to affect change in our perceptions of the wild. Through specially curated tours, he aims to educate the public and photographers alike with his extensive knowledge on this topic. His exciting new venture hopes to create awareness from the ground up and drive policy changes that will push conservation efforts further.

The LLA Experience

When we asked him about his time in Ooty at Light and Life Academy, we could immediately hear an excitement in Pradeep?s voice. He reminisced about rushing to the forest to do pictures and how addictive the Nilgiris became. As much as it kindled his obsession with wildlife photography, his time at LLA gave him many life lessons that he still values. He counts it among the best decisions he made in his life.

Pradeep Ravi aged 29 from Chennai is a passionate and committed wildlife photographer who has a keen eye for the technical and aesthetic aspects of photography.

Trained at LLA and under the mentorship of senior Nat Geo / BBC Cinematographer Saravana Kumar, he has built a strong portfolio for himself through 700+ safaris over the last 8 years across India and Kenya.