Shutterbugs not only capture the beauty of nature’s workings, but they also tell the tale of the world by freezing a fleeting moment in physical or virtual form. Many such awe-inspiring works of nature photographers, showcasing wild grasslands, sandy dunes and serene vistas of lush greenery meeting the blue sky, depict the minutest details of their surrounding environs that we might often miss.
Providing nature photographers with a plethora of such amazing views are landscapes across Asia. From rainforests, deserts and meandering rivers to dramatic portraits of animals and birds, or macro closeups of their intimate moments cocooned amid the thick foliage, some of the best nature photographers in Asia bring these captivating elements to the forefront in the most stunning ways.
Scrolling through their wildlife and nature photographs will surely make you rush to a forest sanctuary and be at one with the peaceful environment. Weaving in untold stories from Mother Earth’s bounty, these photographers emphasise the beauty of Asia through this visual art form.
Here are some of Asia’s best nature photographers that you must know about
Malaysia-born photographer Eiffel Chong draws inspiration from German photographers of the Dusseldorf School. Such is their influence that Chong mostly captures images in large formats like them.
Chronicling the impacts that humans have left on nature, Chong’s compelling images depict a contrast between new and old and the real and the imagination. In his collection Landscapes: A Horizontal Ligature Mark, Chong photographs desolate fields to enhance the human impact on nature as the beauty and resilience of the latter shine through every click.
A similar theme is seen in his series titled Seascape where calm and serene seas become his muse while an omnipresent motif of man — in the form of a boat and a pier — is seen in every frame. While he also turns his attention to abandoned buildings as a symbol of cyclic nature and works on abstract concepts of life and death, the way he uses the photographic medium is what sets him apart from others.
Eiffel Chong has also won a number of awards, including the Excellent Photography Exhibition Award at the Xishuangbanna Photography Festival in China (2016) and AugustMan Man Of The Year 2016 (ART) in Malaysia.
Asian landscapes provide an outstanding habitat for exotic wildlife to thrive, and Indian photographer Shaaz Jung’s lens takes you into the core of this wilderness. From tracking big cats, tusked elephants, panthers and reptiles to capturing the most majestic bird in flight, Jung’s works will remind you of the world of Mowgli, the fictional character created by Rudyard Kipling in The Jungle Book.
Seeking dramatic portraits of untamed animal behaviour, Jung takes viewers into the forests of South India and East Africa. Not just that, he is a master storyteller who uses his camera to create visual narratives.
Jung’s collection, The Jungle Book (2019), on Instagram is a reenactment of Kipling’s 1894 masterpiece. The National Geographic contributor and Nikon and Samsung ambassador was inspired by the stills in the book and captured real-life counterparts in the wild.
Born to a family who runs a photo studio in Yamagata, Japan, Kazuaki Koseki was introduced to the craft from a very young age. His serene and almost surreal clicks showcasing nature photographs most sublimely make him a prominent figure among Asia’s most noted nature photographers.
The award-winning shutterbug depicts various landscapes of Yamagata and Tohoku, as well as travels the world to create an impressive portfolio of images of mountains, waterfalls, forests and rivers. In 2021, Koseki bagged the Highly Honored Landscape Award at Nature’s Best Photography Asia competition — a prestigious nature photo contest in the continent.
Other accolades of this nature photographer include Wildlife Photographer of the Year 2021, LensCulture Critics’ Choice 2021, BigPicture Nature world Photography Competition 2021 and Photoville FENCE 2020. He also has a book to his credit — Forest of Misty Vision (2022).
The technical quality of the image of the alarmed slender loris shows Kalyan Varma’s prowess in nature photography and how he manages to capture Asia’s sweeping landscapes.
According to his official website, Varma is a “wildlife photographer, filmmaker, naturalist and explorer dedicated to documenting wildlife and the environmental issues.” His works have been featured in leading publications like National Geographic, Nature, The Guardian, BBC Wildlife, GEO, Smithsonian, Lonely Planet and other magazines.
The co-founder of Asia’s largest nature photo festival — Nature InFocus — his photographs will enthral you with amazing scenes of nature and wildlife.
Varma has also worked on a number of nature documentaries like Wild Karnataka for the Karnataka Forest Department (2016-2017— in production), BBC India: Natures Wonderland series for BBC (2015) and Wildest India: Western Ghats for OffTheFence for Discovery (2011).
Taca Sui is an alum of the prestigious Central Academy of Fine Arts in Beijing, China. Later, he shifted to the US in 2007 to delve deep into photography at the Rochester Institute of Technology.
The thought-provoking quality in every monochrome photograph he takes — for instance, the one published on Sui’s website — is what makes each of the stills unique. His collection titled Grotto Heavens (2017- ) portrays a journey he undertook through the Five Great Mountains of China.
His website describes the grotto heavens as, “These Grotto Heavens are usually situated in natural caves. Unlike natural caves, however, they are distinguished by a unique characteristic, that is to say since the 3rd century A.D. they have been considered as containers of hidden passages that enable pilgrims to transcend time and space.”
This professional photographer adeptly captures nature and some of China’s most remote locales. Some of Taca Sui’s other noted collections include Odes (2009- 2013) and Steles- Huang Yi Project (2015-2021). Works from the former have also been featured in publications like Chinese Photography Magazine and IMA Magazine.
One of India’s most prolific nature and wildlife photographers, Dhritiman Mukherjee describes himself as a wanderer and explorer. Pushing the boundaries, Mukherjee has travelled to some of the most far-flung corners of the subcontinent to capture exotic elements of nature and wildlife at their very best.
From reaching the farthest heights of the Himalayas in search of snow leopards to being the first photographer to click the Western tragopan in the open wild, Dhritiman Mukherjee has defied all odds to get the best photograph of some of the most challenging natural environs in the world.
Working as an explorer and photographer for Sony, Mukherjee has also received a number of accolades like BBC Wildlife Photographer of the Year (2020), Kirloskar Vasundhara Mitra Award(2015), RBS Earth Heroes Award (2013) and Carl Zeiss Conservation Award (2013).
Based in Chennai, Rathika Ramaswamy is a prominent figure in the Indian wildlife photography circuit. Her works take her to the innumerable natural reserves and sanctuaries across India. Here, she photographs exotic birds, big felines and other exotic wildlife that the country boasts.
Her Instagram feed is proof of her love and fascination for our feathered friends as she captures them in various moods and settings. Showcasing technical expertise of over 19 years of experience, Ramaswamy is a Nikon Professional member whose work has been featured in revered publications and earned her accolades from all over.
In March 2022, Ramaswamy received the Streeshakthi Award by Sree Sankara TV, the Inidhu environment award in October 2018 and the ICF (International Camera Fair) Award for outstanding performance and achievements in wildlife photography in June 2015. Her works have been featured in publications like Treasures on Tiger Tracks — a bi-lingual nature guide to Kalakad Mundanthurai Tiger Reserve by Jahnavi G Pai, T.Ganesh and R M Soubadra Devy — and A Handbook to the Birds of Shangrila by Jodi Brandt & Ellen Bartee.
In 2009, Doordarshan honoured her as the first female wildlife photographer in India and showed her works in DD Chennai. Additionally, Ramaswamy hosts several photography workshops for a large audience across the globe.
The winner in the wildlife category at the 2021 and 2016 Nature’s Best Photography Asia, Tapan Sheth captures dramatic portraits and compelling images of big felines, birds and the world around us.
Head to his Instagram page, which will instantly take you to places like Gir National Park in Gujarat and other wildlife sanctuaries across the country. Each of his photographs has an enigmatic aura about them as his lens tells a one-of-a-kind story about the lions, tigers and other regal beasts that roam the Indian jungles.
With works featured in publications such as DNA India, BBC Magazine, The Sun UK, Daily Mail UK and Hindustan Times, Sheth has several achievements to his name. These include winning Through the Lens by Wildlife Reserves Singapore 2017 and Special Mention Nature in Focus 2018.
Robert Zhao Renhui
Award-winning photographer from Singapore, Robert Zhao Renhui is counted among those shutterbugs who use this visual art to express their own feelings and adoration for nature. The author of the book A Guide to Flora and Fauna (2013) poses a question to all his readers about their belief in photography and science.
In this regard, Rehnui had clicked 55 plants and animals in their native environment. There seem to be nothing unusual about the images at first, but on careful study, you will notice that they, in fact, highlight the adverse effects that climate change and a hazardous environment have on them.
Zhao Renhui is one of the most well-known and highly recognised nature photographers who uses his craft to create awareness and encourage research. He is the recipient of the Young Artist Award in Singapore and an Honourable Mention at the Photo Levallois Festival, Paris, France. His works have also been showcased at exhibitions across the world and are included in the collections of the Kadist Art Foundation in San Francisco, UBS Art Collection in New York and Statoil Art Collection in Norway.
Seoul-based nature photographer Jaewoon U has garnered attention for his detailed and vivid images that capture the essence of the South Korean landscape and outdoor scenery. Going big on 500px, Jaewoon’s lens captures colourful landscapes, crystal-clear lakes, seasonal foliage and more across Korea.
Scrolling through his surreal photographs will make you pack your bags for South Korea and set on a journey through one of the most pristine Southeast Asian countries.
(Main and feature image credit: Andrew Ly/ @nineteen/ Unsplash)
This story first appeared on Prestige Online Malaysia.
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