Gurcharan Roopra is an award-winning wildlife and nature photographer who was born and raised in Nairobi, Kenya. After graduating in automotive engineering, he lived and worked in the UK, but Kenya’s striking natural beauty and seemingly endless splendour made a lasting impact on him and so, in 2021, he returned to his home country where he developed an interest in photography. Here, time and the bush were great mentors, allowing him to hone his skills to become one of Africa’s most notable wildlife photographers.

What is your favourite genre to photograph?

Wildlife without a doubt. 

It wasn’t easy when I started and it took practice, but learning more about the camera, its settings and post-processing helped a lot. Also, with other genres of photography, the weight of the camera increases exponentially.

Wildlife photographers often have a wishlist they hope to tick off during their next park trip and so do I, but with practice comes vision which means that you have an idea of how to make the best of those opportune moments and capture the best shot.

Gurcharan Roopra Elephant
Gurcharan Roopra Zebras

What kind of post-production do you do on your photographs and what tools do you use to get to your result?

All my post-production is done in Adobe Lightroom where I most often used the Basic, B&W and Lens Correction sliders. The brush, gradient and spot removal come in handy too. When using the brush I prefer working on my Wacom Intuos tablet as the natural feel of a pencil is so much more comfortable than a mouse. 

Are there any photographers who you adore and draw inspiration from?

I have lots, but some of my favourites between Kenya and South Africa are William Steel, Ross Couper, Jay & Jan on their aerial shots, Patrick Bentley, Tami Walker, Wim van den Heever, Brendon Cremer and greats like Marsel Van Oosten and Federico Veronesi. For a moment there, it must’ve looked like I was never gonna stop 😉

But, I’ve come to appreciate that a fresh new approach is just as inspiring, so I’m always on the hunt for new photographers even in other genres and Stephen Segal’s work is a great example of this.

Is there a specific message you want to convey with your photographs, and how do you get that message across?

The most important part of the message is pristine Earth as, without it, neither my subjects nor I will have any point! 

Gurcharan Roopra Mountain
Gurcharan Roopra View

Like with most wildlife photographers, my journey started with a massive telephoto lens for capturing animal moments, but this method soon grew tiring and so I adopted new viewpoints and methods of photography that truly speak to me and I’m sure they reflect in my work.

I get bored easily so, with photography, there is always an opportunity to move on to a new subject to keep me entertained. There was a time when I favoured zebras, but it seems to have become giraffes now. I love rhino’s too but perhaps it is just everything about nature? I have a fascination with the skies, particularly dramatic clouds or thunderstorms approaching, and some of my best shots have come from this.

Connecting with nature is soul food and gives me peace of mind (the best sleep I get is after a game drive!). When visiting a national park, it gives me a great deal of satisfaction to track down an animal and photograph it – even more so if it leads to an artistic shot. I love the entire process. Spending time with the animals to the point where they behave naturally with me is usually when the magic shots come! 

How did you get from being an aspiring photographer to doing it as a full-time career?

The secret is that I’m still an aspiring photographer, and this is my weekend hobby. Initially, I kept money away from the hobby so that I don’t go chasing for money shots, this has all helped to push my artistic viewpoint. The important part is the more time you spend in the bush the better chances you get.

How do you get paid to do what you want to do with your photography?

I am a director at Rock Plant East Africa which keeps me out of trouble during the week. While I do not pursue photography full-time, the demand for it has grown and so I hold workshops, sell prints, keep my equipment up to date and continue going on trips to capture more memorable shots. One of my favourite times taking photos is when, at the mercy of a seatbelt, I capture aerial photos from a helicopter.

What gear can you not be without?

My Landy is like a studio on wheels, but if I was to quickly jump into another vehicle, then the following:

Gurcharan Roopra Above

What paper(s) do you prefer to print on and why?

I’ve been pondering a few paper options from Lustre to Metallic canvas, but my new love is the DiaMount®, it is so gorgeous and nearly feels alive! 

What framing would complement your work?

DiaMount® doesn’t need framing, but if I had opted for another type of print, the framing would certainly be minimalistic – not distracting from the photo yet making it feel complete and beautiful at the same time.

Nature is our greatest teacher. Gurcharan uses his passion for photography to tap into Mother Earth’s abundant beauty in pursuit of personal peace, but also to showcase pristine earth as it is today. He also devotes his time and energy towards conservation causes in Kenya and is delighted that his images have come useful for these projects. Learn more about his work on his website, and follow him on Instagram and Facebook for photographic inspiration.