Two decades of being a wanderer endeavoring the passion of Wildlife Photography- Mohan Thomas
Late Mr. M T Thomas
16th April 1959
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Nature is everything for Mohan Thomas because all its elements such as the flora-fauna, mountains, rivers, oceans and clouds define the artwork of this wildlife and nature enthusiast. It’s not about the competition but what matters is the hunger for excellence. Even while lying on the hospital bed, Mohan was worried whether he could lift his 600mm lens again. All the recognition was bestowed upon him from 2015 when he was honoured with the Muthukalam Ragavan Pillai Award and DCP Expeditions honoring him as the Photographer of the year for two consecutive years and then bringing him up to the judging panel as no one can compete against his expertise and knowledge. Mohan’s Story will surely make you leave the very messy-chaotic city life to wander the unexplored nature to have a look at another way of life i.e. the wildlife.
We are really keen to know; how did your journey begin?
I went on a pursuit of beginning to capture ‘the wildlife’s majesty’- a tiger, but to no avail, it wasn’t the right time. After 12 years of sheer patience, the majestic animal did show up and looking at his magnificence, my arms were shivering due to the excitement, anxiety turning up by looking at it live in front of my eyes for the first time. Such experience must be witnessed by each photographer once in their life. I have been pursuing wildlife photography for the last 20 years. We are three brothers in our family and all three of us are wildlife photographers. I must say that in India, there are more wildlife photographers than the wildlife present in the forests itself.
What were the hardships / hurdles you have encountered during your journey? How did you overcome them?
Six years ago, I went for a recce of a location with one of my friend where he was driving, suddenly our vehicle got hit at a bridge and fell down. I became unconscious and after returning to my senses I came to know that I had eight fractures on my ribs and a brain injury, I had almost gone into coma and lost hope that I would even survive. I went through a brain surgery where I lost one of the vital organs of the brain and even now, I am on medication for lifetime. When I was admitted, I asked the doctors if I could ever lift my 600mm lens again, because during those days they were a bit heavier, listening to this the doctors thought that I had gone crazy. I returned home following a strict bedrest but my urge to go back to the wild cured my illness and after three weeks, I was found shooting leopards.
Know me Beyond Photography
Enjoy your life to the fullest
Dhritiman Mukherjee (Wildlife), Amit Rane (Landscape)
Food I Love
Chinese and Tapioca
Food I Hate
Like Vacations at
Favorite Pass time
I spend some time with my family
Favorite Movies / Series
Pretty Women, Western movies
Success is incomplete without its share of setbacks. What advice do you give to others about handling the setbacks?
Failures are a part of life, don’t lose sight of the goal once you’ve failed. Failures will come and go. Just don’t lose the focus, keep trying.
Which was "that" moment when you considered yourself as "I Am The 1"?
I have hardly sent any work to the competitions, but in 2015 when DCP Expeditions called me and said that they have chosen me as the Photographer of the Year, that was the wow moment of my life. And earlier as I mentioned about the Muthukalam Raghavan Pillai Award, which is even honoured to K J Yesudas, a finest classical singer; receiving such a great honor makes me feel like ‘I Am The 1’.
Did you get any formal training in Photography? Kindly tell us about it…
Initially when I started, there was hardly any source of learning. So then I just started to explore everything by myself. My brother and I kept on shooting and discussing on our flaws and improvements, that’s how I learnt the different perspectives of photography.
Could you reflect on the importance of systematic training in Photography?
It took a long time to learn as I was learning by my own. Now everything is available on the internet, so it’s a great advantage.
What are the pre-coaching essentials e.g. right age, mindset or anything else?
My friend’s 9-year-old daughter shoots flawlessly and she is very passionate and talented in this craft. She has also won a lot of International awards for her work from BBC, NatGeo, etc. So once you develop an interest in something then it becomes easy to learn. There are people who are more than 60 years old retired but still they come to me to learn Photography as they enjoy it.
Technology is changing the way people get trained in Photography. What's your take?
Yes because as I said earlier that there are lots of sources available on the internet to learn, but what is more important is how much you are actually practicing on the fields. If any doubt comes up, then you can easily get it resolved through the internet right away. That’s how easy the technology has made the learning and application of what has been learnt.
What qualities must one look for in a 'Guru' for training in Photography?
Do not get trained under someone who takes you in a jungle, shows you a tiger and says, “here is a tiger, now shoot” and keeps on clicking his/her own images and doesn’t even bother to help you learn the techniques. Get trained under a person who actually guides you, teaches you and with whom you are comfortable. Somebody who is ‘Willing’ to share all of his/her expertise and knowledge to the people who are keen to learn.
If you were to bring one big change in the way people get trained in Photography what would that be?
I would like to share whatever knowledge I have with a person who is keen to learn as it is said that the more knowledge you share the more knowledge you acquire.
What do you suggest for better accessibility of Photography training in remote parts of India?
Nowadays, online tutorials are easily found. Established photographers conduct numerous classes in all parts of the country. For the passionate, seeking them out and learning from them will make you grow leaps and bounds
Your piece of advice to parents and new generation especially when some people are skeptical about career in extra curriculum…
In India, the success rate of wildlife photographers is less than one percent, because there are hundreds of wildlife photographers but only very few persons would earn from it. The coming generation should focus on creating a platform for budding photographers to follow their dreams and profit from it. It’s a tall task, but I’m always optimistic.
What's your success mantra?
The three P’s” i.e. passion, patience and perseverance are the absolute must for you to become successful.
One thing which you feel you want to change from the past while you walk down the memory lane…
I wish if I could’ve started wildlife photography much earlier. .