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Go Slow

I thought it would be good for everyone who reads these posts to occasionally hear from others who are also in this interesting area of wildlife photography, and it is only right that I start with Rahul Sachdev ( )

He is the person I have learnt the most from, and, over the last few years, the teacher and friend I have traveled the most with. His images are a stunning combination of the dramatic and the dreamy and reveal an eye for composition that most of us would die for.

I had read his blogs long before I met the man and it is a shame that he doesn't write more often. Anyway, I requested, cajoled and bullied my way through ( of course, I am grossly exaggerating :) ! ) and here he is... ( drumroll ).


Well, this is my first blog for Ashok's website and I hope that he doesn't hate it and make this my last one :)

Truth be told, it’s my first blog in a while on any platform, so I had a tough time even getting started.

I believe that’s where the idea of 'Go Slow' came in for this blog. Going Slow, a term I associate very easily with, even in day-to-day life has a pretty significant role to play in my journey as a photographer. Every time I get overwhelmed by a place; I remind myself to 'Go Slow'

So, what is 'Go Slow'? What does it mean to a photographer?

It probably could mean any or all the following things.

A) It could mean doing lesser places in a trip

B) It could mean visiting a place for a longer time

C) It could also mean giving your brain a breather once you are in the place. Take in the place, go slow. Observe, think, and then act.


The first two I believe are the easier ones. A little experience and you come to know the value of spending more time in a place and the value of not filling up your itinerary with too-many places.

What took me an absurdly long amount of time was to understand the third one. Even now, I am certain that in my case, it isn’t something like driving/swimming which you supposedly do not forget easily. I'll try and give you guys an example of what 'Go Slow' means to me, and in the process hopefully etch it better in my muscle memory as well.


How does one plan for a trip or, how does one zero in on a place? I think that’s where it starts for me. Going Slow means going slow on deciding on the place as well. Researching it enough as a photographer. The research for a photographer is slightly different than that for a wildlife viewer. As a photographer we are probably a little more concerned about the quality of light, chances of drama, potential of making images vs seeing things and that has led to many of my bucket-list places being changed over the last half a dozen years.

I remember planning for a winter trip to Japan some years back and that is the first place where I truly understood the importance of going slow.

I reached Japan, prepared with a lot of ammunition in terms of knowledge about the place, the weather (I believe I’ll write about my obsession with weather in another blog), the potential sightings etc. My itinerary was planned such that I'd start the Hokkaido journey with Red-Crowned Cranes and End it with the Red-Crowned Cranes. In between we had two days with Swans and two days with Stellar’s-Sea Eagles. The first couple of days we saw a huge number of red-crowned cranes. More than I had imagined. More than I wanted to as a photographer. I struggled, missing opportunities like crazy. Frustrated with myself, frustrated with being in a place with temperatures dropping to -29C in the mornings, frustrated in general if I may say so.

Here are some of the first images I made then. It was clearly a disaster in the making.

A couple of days into the trip, at Lake Kussharo (a place known for Swans in peak winter) while we were making images of Whooper Swans, one of my friends declared, he has had enough and he is going back to the warmth of the vehicle. He said it in his inimitable style (something that Ashok won't allow on his blog :)) but it hit me like a hammer.

It wasn't just me who was getting overwhelmed with the place (that helps somehow :)). Truth is, I hadn't yet been to place where the opportunities were in such abundance.

That moment acted like magic for me. I took a breather. Took some time off from the camera, sat on the banks observing the snow, the light, the mist, the surroundings and later that evening I made the least number of images on the trip but in all honesty, some of my better frames. Frames that were not just point and shoot. Frames where I believe I thought and made a difference as a photographer.

My last leg with the cranes (one of the only things that I did right with the itinerary, keep some reserve days for conditions to improve and the mind to think) proved a little more fruitful as well.

Of course, giving it more time helps, but sometimes I just get carried away with the beauty a place offers and it is good to remind myself every now and then to ‘go slow’ and as I plan for my next visit to the magical land, I hope I have the courage to that from the word go, to take in the place well before I click.


 That is what I look for when I decide on a place, when I decide on a frame. What difference am I making to it? Now as a wildlife photographer, we are bound to encounter scenes where we are demanded by nature to document them sometimes but I am more satisfied when I make images where I can add a bit of myself to the frame.

Going Slow, helps me do that.

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Love the expression - go slow. It's a state of being isn't it, and brought back to me a myriad expressions I use for states of being. In very different contexts (and different meanings as well though there may be a bit of correlation). Like ठहराव, stillness, allowing self to be phlegmatic. Another one is स्थितप्रज्ञ - unfazed in sorrow or happiness, able to observe and assimilate the essence, ignore the chaff. Lovely piece !

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Definitely a state of being and as many have told me separately, equally valid for life as well. Thehrav is such a wonderful, evocative word !!! My Hindi is limited enough for me not to have heard the second word, but loved the meaning...yeah, it def was a deep piece ! Thanks

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Well said! Slowing down is something we have forgotten, and it's important to be intentional about this. A lot of it is also conditioning. Since childhood, as middle class we have been taught to think, what's value for the money we spend. This gets magnified in every possible opportunity, photography trips notwithstanding. We want "value" for every $$ spent on a safari! It's important to revisit what this value is. Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

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That's an interesting point on how we desire value from every cent spent on a safari and tracing it back to the conditioning from childhood. Thanks for sharing !

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Beautiful...a visual meditation

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That's a very appropriate and lovely term - visual meditation !

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Beautifully said, Rahul. One of the reasons that I am happy on a trip to Bharatpur is that I can just walk around and soak in the atmosphere and do nothing for as long as I feel like. And do whatever catches my fancy whenever it does. Being happy with 2-3 good photos a year is a far cry from the trigger-happy person I was when I first met you - and it is lots more fulfilling as well;-)

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Yeah I remember noticing that about you in Bharatpur...many well known photographers talk about getting one or max two great photos from each trip. I guess that does make one want to look even more closely for those opportunities and ignore the chaff

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Well said Rahul! Taking in the essence is what it's all about. Even the hope for the photograph!

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Absolutely...loved the thought !

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