Born and raised in Pittsburgh, PA, I was fortunate to travel as a young child and was keenly struck by the disparities of people's circumstances and opportunities. As I matured, these early life experiences led me to embark on a path of helping others through a career in international development and public health.
My love of photography blossomed while backpacking in Bhutan with a manual Minolta borrowed from my mother. After graduate school, I went to Peshawar, Pakistan to work in the Afghan refugee camps, armed with a Nikon FM2, Kodachrome 64 and Ilford B&W film. In the camps, I discovered that it was possible to engage meaningfully with people — despite language barriers — and preserve the moment through photography.
Over the past three decades, I've worked in countries struggling to recover from conflict, and used photography to document human conditions. My personal travels have taken me around the world, and I now have a collection of faces and places in Asia, Africa, Eastern Europe and Oceania. As a passionate conservationist, I recently turned to wildlife photography to showcase the magnificence of the Earth's creatures.
I now live in Washington, DC and travel as much as I can. My photography has been published in Men's Health, Conde Nast Traveller UK, and on Maptia. My portrait and landscape photography is on www.nitins.photos.
My work tries to display deep reverence for my subjects and to capture their souls by getting as close as possible, without disrupting, harming or baiting the animals. I work with guides who understand their behavior and will wait for the subject to feel comfortable with my presence before I start to photograph it.
Getting close to animals isn't always possible. I work hard to find experienced, specialist guides who know the animals and their behavior. They have waited with me for hours so I could get the perfect shot — for an elephant to pose or a leopard to turn his head and look into the camera. I am very grateful to them for their patience, knowledge or even a firm hand which has yanked me out of danger more than once.
(Please note — that the photograph above was only possible because the last northern white rhinos are habituated to humans. I was working with their keeper who allowed me to get close. This is NOT recommended for wild animals.)
Grateful that I mastered the fundamentals of exposure, metering and composition with a manual film camera, I still shoot in manual mode to maintain a purity of process, even though I use modern digital cameras now. I try to get as close as I can to the subject and only use a telephoto lens when safety is an issue, to capture details such as the fur on a lion's face.
I had a conversation with two renowned artists who live a simple life in the Tanzanian bush that was life changing — and profoundly affected the way that I think about and process my images.
I use monochromes to highlight the beauty of these creatures and emphasize the interplay between light and shadows on skin and fur. My work is very minimally processed by converting the camera's files to black and white, to recreate the beauty of the rolls of Ilford B&W film I once used. (I don't actually know how to use Photoshop!) Thus, what you're seeing is a rendition in silvertones of what the camera saw.