Today I have the the honor of presenting an interview that comes from the city of Pune in the state of Maharashtra, India. Vishal Jadhav is a self-taught and award-winning photographer, filmmaker, storyteller & cinematographer. Vishal excels at capturing the essence of wildlife, whether it be through his photography or filmmaking with a true understanding of animal behavior. Vishal’s body of work is quite expansive and his passion and drive for his work speaks for itself.
Vishal, it was wonderful getting to know you and thank you for taking the time to participate in this interview. Your work is brilliant and I hope to see more great things from you in the future!
Can you please tell the readers a bit about yourself?
My background is pretty interesting or kinda boring, it’s the way you look at it. Wildlife, which I am interested in and do most of my work in was really something that I was introduced to a lot later in life, originally I got educated in Finance and hold 2 Masters in Finance and worked in the Field of Finance for 18 years. Somewhere along with this I got introduced to wildlife and guess it just stuck on. I started liking it more and more. Animal and bird behavior fascinated me so much that I decided that I wanted to spend my time to do something with it. Somehow then I never knew of a career in Wildlife I could get into so continued with my Finance Career, with getting out into the Wild whenever time permitted me and always thinking of when I can shift to this field. So one day, I decided that I will make it simple and decided a date when I simply leave the Finance field and start into Wildlife filmmaking and try and explore where I go from there. Did manage to keep the date which was at age 40 I made the shift.
Where is home?
I was born in the beautiful city of Pune in the state of Maharashtra, India.
Are you formally taught or self-taught?
Having no formal training in either photography or filmmaking, I simply started on my own, we do not have any formal education in Wildlife Filmmaking in India so couldn’t take that route and had to be self-taught.
What inspired you to become a film-maker and photographer?
My inspiration to take up Wildlife photography and later Wildlife Filmmaking was always due to my love for wildlife that I developed, first I started on only observing wildlife then came photography where the endeavor became to make better images to so the right wildlife behavior which later turned into liking to make videos and finally to Film-making. Guess these were more logical steps as I look behind and try and join the dots if I wouldn’t have learned about wildlife.
Are you satisfied with your choice of getting involved with this industry? Is there anything else you would rather be doing?
I am very happy to make this choice of choosing Wildlife Filmmaking and a shift from my career in Finance.
Can you tell of about your daily routine.
As a wildlife filmmaker there is no standard daily routine, if you are shooting in the field normally get up at 3:30 am get out early reach the filming spot well before sunrise and wait for the magic to happen. Other days, it’s editing at home or research. Apart from this, a lot of time is spent talking to people to find new stories to tell.
In regard to marketing, how much of your time do you dedicate to social media? Do you use any special programs or services?
In terms of Social media, I am active on it but guess it’s landed me only one job to date, so I guess I am not efficient at it, however my website has landed me work more than my social media presence to date. Hence social media I just use to keep a track of what’s happening around in my field of work and to post out some of the stuff I do. I have never used any special program or services to promote myself and not sure of what exists currently.
What type of shoots do you look forward to?
I always look forward to filming new wildlife as it gives me a chance to learn more about the natural world, however I do enjoy in-between my work with other parts of the nonfictional filmmaking that I tend to get involved in and sometimes only being a Cinematographer.
When shooting subjects, what do you find most challenging?
Wildlife has an interesting aspect that it’s completely unpredictable and that’s what makes it challenging as well as interesting, however I know from my experience that it’s possible to learn about wildlife behavior to overcome this challenge. Secondly, there can be an exterior challenge of shooting in environments that are extreme in places with temperatures reaching 50 degrees C, or places with rains being more than 250 mm a day it’s just too extreme but it’s important to stick to these places to ensure that the footage is captured. Most unique behavior aspects that are critical if missed in a shoot may only appear the next year so that becomes a bigger challenge.
What would you say your most remarkable wildlife encounter has been?
Wildlife always gives me remarkable encounters may it be seeing a leopard on foot deep inside a jungle or be it an interaction between wolves and hyenas to see the balance of nature at work. It’s just that if you are willing to learn everything is remarkable.
How do you keep your work fresh and how do you stay motivated to keep on learning?
Learning wildlife behavior is what keeps me motivated every time, each time I am out in the wilderness the desire to learn more about the subjects that I am filming keeps driving me harder. Learning in wildlife is a continuous process no one ever becomes a Master everyone is always an apprentice to the creator.
What’s the best part of being a film-maker and photographer?
The best part is it’s creative, you create something each time and even if you don’t create sometimes you learn more. We as kids every time loved stories and filmmaking is a storytelling process and we all loved telling stories all our lives so this helps me tell more stories which is the best part of it.
What has been the best source of information along your journey (workshop, online forums, classroom, mentor, etc)?
Nature for me is the biggest classroom and the best student is one who can keep his inquisitiveness as a student alive all the time. One of the sites where I have read a lot and even posted and interacted with people at dvinfo.net/forum, where I have read a lot and been involved with the UWOL forum where short films are submitted about wildlife/nature and have helped me tremendously to gain a better perspective. Apart from that, there are many friends who have provided me with a lot of support to learn more about wildlife to understand better.
What type of camera(s) do you shoot with? What is your favorite lens?
I shoot with a variety of stuff from a Panasonic GH5 or a Canon 5D MIV to a Sony FS7 and not minding using a Gopro, rule is simple for me camera is a tool we as artists have to be using these to create art. I believe in one piece of advice one wonderful artist mentioned he said that 49% is based on the tools and 99% of people can be good at it. The difference is made by the 51% how good you can get at it. So for me, the favorite lens is one that helps me make the image I want to make.
What is in your camera bag?
I normally travel in my car and most of my stuff is there except the cameras and lenses. I throw in everything up to the kitchen sink to be sure I have all it needs.
What piece of equipment would you most like to get but don’t have yet?
I would like to shoot some underwater life but have no equipment to do that yet.
How important is Photoshop or other image editing software in your final images?
Photoshop is still a tool it can be Gimp too for processing, both are good for processing images I make. However, it’s always to be remembered that they are a tool and if you do not get a good image in the field then these tools of manipulation are simply useless. It’s all about getting a good image first and then using these tools to fine-tune it. This is my view.
For films, I use Premiere Pro or Final Cut Pro to edit and find both to be useful.
Can you tell me about one of your favorite or most memorable photo sessions? What made it so great and why did you like it so much?
My most memorable session of filming would surely be the day when I filmed the mating of the Oriental Dwarf Kingfisher, it took me nearly 6 years to get that on video, and the day it happened it was truly magical. It was one of the key sequences for my film Flying Rainbow.
Do you have any projects that make you look back and shake your head? What made the experience so unpleasant?
Interestingly, I have no such projects, each project taught me something more and I kept learning. Some aspects may have been unpleasant but overall no project was and I had fun executing all I have to date.
What do you think the future holds for you? Where do you see yourself in the next few years?
I see myself making more wildlife films, where I reach is not something I ever thought of nor will I. That’s a method that served me well in Finance Field and hope to serve me in this, too. For me, success in wildlife is being able to know more about it.