We are honoured and excited to get an exclusive interview with NatGeo 2017 Nature Photographer of the Year, Jayaprakash Joghee Bojan. Read on to learn more about his winning shot, nature photography journey, his photography gear, and his passion for nature conservation.
Congratulations on winning the grand prize in the 2017 Nature Photographer of the Year Contest by National Geographic! Could you share with us what it means to you?
The National Geographic Nature Photographer of the Year is one of the most prestigious awards in the nature photography community. I was excited and humbled when I received the winning email notification. It took some time for me to realise the magnitude of receiving this award. The winning picture of the Orangutan in the river received around 1.8 million ‘likes’ on @natgeo and it became their top six images of 2017.
I am glad I could put the plight of the Orangutans in the spotlight and create awareness of their struggle with the loss of their habitat due to illegal logging and palm oil farming. Winning this title means a lot to me. A lot of new avenues have opened for me in nature photography, but I am especially happy to be able to use my photography for conservation efforts.
What advice can you give to photographers who wish to capture such intimate nature photography as your winning shot?
The key to capturing such images is to invest a lot of time understanding your subject and their behavioural patterns through observation. One should also anticipate on the field, take informed risks, have a presence of mind, tons of patience, have composition skills, understand the lighting and a strong grip on the basics of photography.
Canon EOS-1D Mark IV | Canon EF600mm f/4L IS USM | f/5.0 | ISO 800 | 1/8000
How did you get into nature photography?
My interest in nature was a natural progression. I was born in the hills of Nilgiris, Tamil Nadu, India, surrounded by beautiful landscape, flora, and fauna. I was a hobbyist photographer for a little more than a decade but took nature photography seriously only in late 2013. I’ve had travelled across Asia & Africa chasing wildlife moments and making memories of a lifetime ever since.
Canon EOS-1D Mark IV | Canon EF600mm f/4L IS USM | f/4.0 | ISO 1000 | 1/2000
What is the message of your photography to your audience?
I look at photography as a form of art and my constant endeavour has been to tell stories through my images. I enjoy transmitting my experiences with people through my pictures. Over the last 2 years, I have been travelling extensively across South East Asia and focused on making story-telling through meaningful images to create awareness about some of the highly-endangered primates that have been pushed to the edge due to habitat loss, poaching for pet trade, etc. I hope that more people will appreciate these species and do their part to help save these species from extinction.
Canon EOS 7D | Canon EF600mm f/4L IS USM | f/5.0 | ISO 640 | 1/640
What photography gear do you take with you on your nature photography adventures?
As a nature photographer, I am mostly shooting in the early hours of the day or late evenings since most of the action happens during these hours and more importantly, the light is not harsh. I personally enjoy and prefer shooting in low light – I feel it brings more character and story to the pictures. This time of day is also where my Canon EOS 5D Mark IV performs like a star. The camera’s 30.4MP full-frame CMOS sensor gives me a lot of details for my large size prints and its low light performance is by far one of the best in the market today.
My Canon EOS 7D Mark II is my go-to body when I am shooting birds. The camera’s 20.2M APS-C CMOS sensor, 1.6x crop factor, and 10 fps Continuous Shooting are ideal for birds in flight or any actions in that manner. I usually use the Canon EOS 7D Mark II and the Canon EF600mm f/4L IS II USM combo for birds and I am elated with the results.
Canon EF100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS II USM is my favourite lens to date and is highly underestimated by a lot of folks. It is the most versatile lens and I am always amazed by its performance.
In fact, I shot the entire river sequence of my recent National Geographic award-winning Orangutan with the Canon EOS 5D Mark IV and the Canon EF100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS II USM combo. I was blown away by the details this combo gave me when I made some large prints for my clients.
Canon EF70-200mm f/2.8L IS II USM – This lens is super-fast and when combined with my Canon EOS 5D Mark IV, it gives me the flexibility to shoot in extremely low light yet delivers amazing details on the pictures. This is also my go-to lens when I am shooting portrait, event, and wedding photographs for my friends and family.
When going on trips into the wild, how do you prepare your camera gear for nature elements such as weather and terrain?
As a nature photographer, one cannot avoid bad weather. Thankfully both my Canon EOS 5D Mark IV and Canon EOS 7D Mark II are weather sealed and I have no issues shooting in the mild rain, dust, and snow. I also carry my waterproof camera and lens covers for additional protection, especially during heavy rains.
What is the hardest challenge you have come across as a nature photographer?
Health and fitness are key to longevity in this profession. One of my hardest challenges was trekking in the eastern part of Himalayas with all my photography gear searching for the endangered and elusive Red Pandas in the wild. The terrain was difficult and I had a few falls – nothing serious though. The ability to survive in extreme weather conditions comes with the job!
Canon EOS-1D Mark IV | Canon EF600mm f/4L IS USM | f/4.0 | ISO 1000 | 1/3200
We heard you are now a brand ambassador at Orangutan Alliance – what an honour! Can you share with us your passion for nature conservation?
Yes, it is a big honour for me to be the brand ambassador of the Orangutan Alliance and I am thankful to the chairperson and founder, Maria Abadilla, for finding me worthy of this. While I have been very passionate about conservation through my photography, joining the Orangutan Alliance team has given me more concrete purpose and direction in conservation. I am looking forward to being more engaged with conservation in the coming years and hopefully make a small difference in the larger scheme of things!
Please find more information on Orangutan Alliance and what we do. We look forward to more people across the world to support our efforts in bridging the gap between consumer demand for transparency in the supply chain of palm oil – this is not just for health and safety reasons but also for ethical and environmental reasons. We are focused on the issue of non-sustainable palm oil and support grass root level conservation projects via grants and funding.
Thank you so much for sharing with us your photography experience. How can we stay connected with you?