Ryan BlumtonIn this week’s Echo Arts we examine the work of Botswana based wildlife photographer P
In this week’s Echo Arts we examine the work of Botswana based wildlife photographer Prakaash Hari and delve into his work to understand what drives him, providing insights for aspiring photographers.
Hari’s photography has been published by BBC Earth, National Geographic and in various other magazines and calendars. He has been attracted to nature and wildlife since his childhood and became inspired by his late father who was a nature and wildlife lover.
“My father got me a Yashika film roll camera after I completed my schooling and since then there was no turning back for me and I became so addicted to photography, capturing such images ranging from trees to butterflies and from mountains to rivers.” he says.
He participated in inter-college competitions and these victories in addition to the prizes he won kept the passion burning bright. In 2020, he realized something that is a dream for wildlife photographers all over the world when his work was featured on the BBC Earth Instagram page.
“I got a message from BBC Earth stating that they would like to publish my photo in their Instagram page they featured a photo I took of a Mozambique spitting cobra giving an intimidating pose that they entitled ‘The Spitting Noodles.’ I was over the moon after seeing 65,000 likes and hundreds of comments within a few days,” he said.
He said this gave him more confident and inspired him to aim for more of the same in future. As would be expected, as a wildlife photographer he is an avid traveler who explores extensively for the best environments to take photographs.
“During my nine years living in Botswana I have traveled and photographed in such places as Central Kalahari Game Reserve, Kalahari Transfrontier Park, Tuli Block, Okavango Delta, Moremi Game Reserve, Khwai concession, Savuti Marsh, Linyanti Channel, Chobe National Park, Makgadikgadi pans, Nxai Pan, Nata Bird Sanctuary and Khama Rhino Sanctuary.”
Hari visits nearby Gaborone Game Reserve and Mokolodi to practice composition and different settings in various light conditions. Hari appreciates the Okavango Delta and Maun as photo scenic environments adding, “This incredible, largest inland water delta on earth and UNESCO world heritage site gives me immense pleasure the moment I step in.”
He often snaps photos of potentially dangerous animals though there is no special technique in photographing them that is different to taking photographs of any other subject. Hari does offer some caution though saying; “You have to have the right gear, proper planning, knowledge of animal behavior and most importantly a proper Ranger to help you track the animals. As long as you keep your distance from animals and respect their privacy no animal is dangerous.”
His favorite subject to photograph is the elephant as they are socially bonded gentle giants that are quite animated. Hari said one can get hundreds of frames of elephants in various postures within 10 minutes unlike photographing lions, which sit or doze in one place for hours. He also said that capturing any big cat requires patience.
Having also practiced wildlife photography in India, South Africa and Kenya he said, “You cannot really compare Indian terrain with Botswana’s. Both differ a lot with respect to animals and topography. Botswana is mostly wide-open savannah whereas India has thick, dense jungles making animals harder to spot and the photography more difficult.”
He largely likes photography in Botswana because of the untamed wilderness. “You literally have to track the animals, which is quite natural.” Hari said that he often prefers to pitch his tent in the wilderness as opposed to staying in luxury resorts.
“My sincere advice to them is that you have to be patient and practice with passion and you will not fail. Nature and wildlife will not fetch regular earnings though that does not mean it should not be pursued. Pursuing other subjects for your photography such as models, food and products in addition to wildlife is more worthwhile.”