365 days ago, the boat that was taking me to a Leatherback turtle monitoring site in the Andaman Islands was caught between enormous waves on a remote and ragged coastline. Trying to make it through a 10-meter wide passage into a sheltered lagoon, we struck the reef. Our dunghi split along one side upon impact. Water crashed into the boat from every direction and the broken vessel lurched up onto the reef, side-on to the next set of waves that loomed larger and larger as they barrelled down upon us. I lost all the camera equipment that I had assiduously saved for and collected over 8 years. My mind processed this as soon as I saw the water crashing in around us, even as I was in mid-leap out of the broken boat trying to escape the next wave that would toss it further up the reef, with us in its path. A few moments later, with my feet on the reef and no longer in danger of being trapped under our crippled boat, I looked around to my five companions. Nobody was seriously wounded. A sense of gratitude welled up within – I still had my legs to stand on and my arms to embrace the people dear to me.
The succeeding 365 days have been a mixture of many things. A photographer without a camera is a singer without a voice – frustrated, lacking expression, depressed, stifled and incomplete. The last 12 months have been a slow climb back to re-equipping myself and once again returning to my happiest state – being underwater with my camera.
On this anniversary of losing every bit of my imaging equipment – my most prized material possessions – I am starting this blog. It is in celebration of the joy that photography brings me, and the frustrations that teach me patience and spur me to improve and adapt. Mostly though, it is in celebration of nature – the one thing that inspires me above all else.
A monitor lizard photographed in 2010, about 50 meters from where the sea, in 2012, claimed my camera equipment but spared my life. This image speaks volumes about my relationship with Little Andamans – one of my favourite places in the world.