A lover of nature and wildlife photography, Chirayu deftly captures the essence of his unpredictable subjects. Check out his story and extraordinary photos below.
Say hello to Chirayu:
Where are you from? Where have you been?
I am from Jaipur City, the capital of Rajasthan state of India. I have been to Andaman and Nicobar Islands, Kerala, Jammu and Kashmir, Sikkim, Himachal Pradesh, some parts of Uttar Pradesh like Agra, and many parts of Rajasthan like Udaipur, Jodhpur, Mt. Abu, Ranthambore, and Sariska.
What’s your favorite place in the world?
As of now, I haven’t traveled outside India, but I have traveled to many places within India and loved the Andaman and Nicobar Islands very much. It’s a really beautiful place to visit if you are a beach lover. It is known for its palm-lined, white, sandy beaches, coral reefs, and mangroves. It is a boon to a nature photographer.
What’s on your “bucket list” of ideas to create?
I want to travel to Africa to capture African wildlife. I would love to visit Masai Mara, Serengeti, and Kruger National Park.
How would you describe your visual style?
I love to capture the things as they are in front of me and try to get the best results out of the camera.
How do you find your inspiration?
I find my inspiration from the animal’s behaviors. In wildlife photography, you can’t ask the animal to look a certain way. You should be prepared to capture it when they decide to do interesting things. In wildlife photography, be prepared to wait and wait to get the good shot.
Do you get photographer’s block? If so, how do you overcome that?
Yes, often times, I lack inspiration or it occurs when I am not able to get a good shot even after waiting for hours. I have spent many days not shooting because I couldn’t find inspiration. To overcome it, I just try to find inspiration and start shooting every random subject related to wildlife.
What sparked your love for nature and wildlife photography?
It all started when I got my smartphone which housed a good camera. I started shooting things in my garden like flowers, insects, leaves, etc. Even having my DSLR, I preferred to shoot with my smartphone. Then one day, I decided to start photography with my DSLR camera. After that, there was no looking back. I quit the smartphone photography and started practicing full-time with my DSLR camera.
Have you dabbled in other types of photography – if not, do you intend to in the future?
Yes, I tried street and long-exposure photography. I like doing long exposure photography, but not street photography. Most of the time, I do nature and wildlife photography.
What is your favorite animal to photograph?
Each and every animal is my favourite, and I like to photograph all of them. But in my local forest area, there are many Wild Grey Langurs, and I devote most of my time to capturing them.
Tell us about when your work was published for the first time.
My work was first published in St. Xavier’s College, Jaipur in a photography competition called Imera. My five photographs were exhibited there.
What was the moment you decided to become a photographer?
I picked up my first camera, a Nikon Coolpix l20, six years ago. It was a compact digital camera with good quality. I didn’t have any fixed subjects to capture at that time. I captured anything I could like family shoots, nature and landscapes, cars, cityscapes, etc. When I traveled to Kerala, I took this camera with me and captured some memorable shots. Then after two years of using it, my father took the camera from me to use for his own work and I was left with nothing. Then in 2013, my father bought me a DSLR, the Canon EOS 1100D with a kit lens 18-55mm. At that time, I didn’t really care for any particular type of photography. Then, as I stated above, when I got my smartphone, I delved into nature photography. After quitting smartphone photography, I attempted to use my DSLR Camera. At that time, I had only one lens, the Canon EF-S 18-55mm, so I could only capture wide shots. Then when I traveled to Sikkim, which is in East-India, I took my DSLR with my kit lens. I was able to get some good shots of landscapes with my 18-55mm lens. At that time, I shot in auto mode or in different modes for different situations. But when I started using manual mode, I fully devoted myself to learning it. At that time, I had it in my mind that I would do nature photography. Whenever I traveled, I only shot nature and landscape photos, and in doing so, I spotted many birds and wildlife around me. That inspired me to capture them, but it was a challenge as I only had the kit lens 18-55 mm. I asked my father to get me a telephoto zoom lens – it was a huge investment and my father refused. When he traveled to Thailand, I requested once again for the telephoto lens (Canon EF 70-300 mm IS USM) as prices of lenses are cheaper in Thailand. He acquiesced and bought me the lens and that’s how I got into wildlife photography.
What is the strangest situation you’ve ever faced as a photographer?
Haha yes, it’s strange but also funny. It is not related to wildlife photography, but with street photography. I was roaming the streets of old Jaipur City when I saw a small girl making a design on a piece of cloth to sell in the market. As soon as I captured her photo, her mother saw me and asked me for money. She kept insisting on payment, so I told her I would delete the photo, but she wouldn’t listen. So I ran away. Funny, yet strange, haha.
What has been your biggest setback as a photographer?
Not having enough money to travel alone.
Of the photos you’ve taken, which are your three favorites?
This is my favourite photograph. I love the way the Grey Langurs are sitting together, targeting a particular direction while the first one is out of sync. I was awarded with Best Wildlife Photography Award 2016 in the State Level Photography Competition.
I took this when I traveled to Andaman and Nicobar Islands this year. This is Radhanagar Beach, and it is one of the best beaches in Asia. I love this scene and moment.
This is another one of my favorites as it depicts love between Grey Langurs. I took this photo very quickly as the hugging was not for more than 5-6 seconds.
What’s the best advice you can think of for someone just starting in photography?
I want to tell them that no camera is the best. You can do best out of your camera. Just be patient and try to learn from your mistakes. Take help from internet and like-minded people. Fix the thing in your mind that what you want to capture and focus on it. And in the end practice, practice and practice.
If you could photograph anything in the world, what would it be?
I just want to photograph the wildlife of India and Africa, and also the beautiful landscapes of Australia and Switzerland.
What’s your philosophy when it comes to being a great photographer?
Study the place where you are going to shoot. Make the use of natural light and have a look on the weather of that place.
Any tips on shooting wildlife?
I look for the moments when the animal does something cute or interesting. I also keep a watch on lighting when I do wildlife or nature photography.
Any projects you’d like to show off?
I display my work on my Instagram account @nature_animallover. You can see all my wildlife and travel photography there.
What’s the most inspiring photo you’ve ever seen?
This is the most inspiring photo I’ve seen; it was taken by @sudhirshivaram
What are 3 tips you have for aspiring photographers?
- Take your time to learn your camera. Yes, learning the camera takes time.
- Don’t hesitate to ask for help/advice from other photographers.
- Explore different types of photography in the beginning like portrait, architecture, nature, wildlife, and street. That will enable you to know what you are passionate about and where genre to hone your craft in.
What kind of gear do you have?
Currently, I am using Canon EOS 1100D and my lenses are as follows:
- Canon EF-S 18-55mm Kit lens.
- Canon EF-S 10-18mm IS STM.
- Canon EF 50mm STM.
- Canon EF 70-300mm IS USM.
I will be picking up a Canon EOS 7D Mark 2 soon, and maybe next year, I will be getting a Tamron SP 150-600mm DI VC USD G2.
What’s one post-processing tip you’d like to share with other photographers?
Don’t depend on photo editing tools much. Try to get the best out of your camera. Don’t over edit your photos – take care of highlights, saturation, and shadows.
What has photography done for you as a person? How has it changed you?
Photography helped me to understand animal behaviors and rules of nature. It has also helped me to develop a bond with nature and wildlife. Now, I want to travel more to photograph beautiful nature and wildlife.
Who’s your biggest hero in your life?
My Mom and Dad.
What will you be doing five years from now?
I haven’t planned anything yet.
What’s the craziest thing you’ve ever done?
Haha, so listen. This year, I made a plan to capture city lights on the eve of Diwali Festival. I captured many things in Jaipur city, but now I wanted to capture a shot of Jaipur city from the top of the hill. My friend and I were going to the top when police stopped us from proceeding. But I wanted to capture one shot from the hill, so we both tried to find the other way to reach the peak. Then we saw a big old gate – it was at least 20 ft high and was built on the small hill. So we decided to go there, but the path to that gate was really scary and locals report leopard sightings in that area. It was around 9 pm and there was no moon as it was new moon day, so it was pitch black. We went to the top of that gate just with the help of flashlights and we stopped for half an hour at the top of the gate. Many thoughts of ghosts and witches came across my mind with the real fear of leopards. So after capturing some photos, we returned from the hill safely. Though I didn’t get the good shot, the experience was full of adventure.
What’s something you’ve always wanted to do but haven’t?
There are so many things.
For anyone that wants to get in touch with Chirayu, here’s some contact information:
Chirayu, thank you for sharing your story with us!
If any artists out there want to collaborate with FStop, don’t hesitate to reach out to us.