Home » Coffee With Experts

Kalyan Varma – Award winning wildlife photographer

27 February 2011 4 Comments

Hi All..

There is a saying.. “Some people dream when they sleep and some stay awake to chase that dream.” And today, I have a very very special guest in the show on Coffee With Experts who is an epitome of chasing ones dream! Please join me in welcoming Mr. Kalyan Varma – Award winning Wildlife Photographer from Bangalore! He freelances with BBC and National Geographic Channel! What is even more fascinating is the fact that he worked in Yahoo! as a securities expert.. decided to quit what one would call “comfortable & well settled” job.. only to chase his dreams.. And man, he did chase them quite well.. Very happy to host a Mr. Kalyan Varma on the show. Through out the interview, you can see some amazing photographs from Kalyan Varma. You can check out his entire collection at Kalyanvarma.net More about Kalyan can be seen here on the wiki page – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kalyan_Varma

Me: Sundar Rajan G S
KV: Kalyan Varma

Me: Hi Kalyan, Welcome to the show on Coffee With Sundar! Through out your career… you have made interesting choices.. Like Mechanical engineering student to the world of Yahoo.. Then to photography.. Can you speak about yourself.. your background and what you went through when making such critical decisions..

KV: Hi Sundar.. Happy to be on CWS.. My decsions have always been based on what I like.. Not necessarily based on best career choice.. All of us have a lot of interests.. from school days.. I was fascinated with computer technology and robotics.. The whole thing about Artificial Intelligence was exciting me.. so I chose to do Mech.. But I got disillusioned.. We were not doing anything close to what I wanted to do in Mech 🙂 While I was in mech.. in late 90s.. the dot com movement was picking up.. That was when I got fascinated with the concept of open source.. linux.. security etc.. In a way I was fascinated by movies about hacking 🙂 I did spend a good amount of time doing all of that in college.. Thats how I landed up in Yahoo where I was working on security..


Me: You received the “Yahoo Super Star Award – 2003”.. You should have been very good at your work… Are you sure that you didnt find it passionate..

KV: I really enjoyed the work there.. Infact every minute was enjoyable.. I was solving security issues which were hard.. so I enjoyed it.. I was not bored at all.. But I was interested in photography & wildlife from young.. Although I have never spent time in jungle, I used to watch a lot of national geographic channel in India.. But yes, I was quite intersted in the job..

KV: I was earning money when I was at work.. I was able to stay in wildlife sanctury.. I was able to fund my camera.. Wildlife and photography was more like a weekend passion for me.. I worked for 3 years at yahoo! I used to enjoy it.. I spent long hours at work.. At one point, I wanted a break.. So I took 2-3 months off.. I just wanted a time off.. So I decided to spend some time in jungle..

Kinabatangan River

KV: The more time I spent in the jungle.. the more I became really passionate.. I was really fascinated by the whole concept of Jungle and nature etc.. There is a government of Karnata eco-tourism resort where I was a regular customer.. I told them that I wanted to spend a few weeks.. They said why not work with us.. So I started showing the tourists all the wildlife in the forest.. And that is how the journey started..

Lion with the kill

KV: So.. I spent time in forest.. amidst the tigers & the elephants.. I spent time with the tribals.. The whole thing was so fascinating and found that it was difficult to come back to a desk job.. So what was planned as a 3 month visit.. ended up for 1 year…

Me: Wow.. That is indeed quite a story! What about the money and livelihood.. How did you manage..

KV: Ofcourse thats the difficult part 🙂 I was not earning.. Even the work with the resort was a free of cost work.. I wasnt making money there.. I was just burning savings.. But at the same time.. I didnt want to come back.. So I decided to do consulting.. I must admit I was very naive when I thought I could do 10 days a month of consulting.. I couldn’t do justice for both my consulting work and for my photography.. When I am with the tigers.. in the middle of forest.. I used to get phone calls about the projects.. And vice versa.. I was thinking of the jungle while I was consulting as well.. This went on for about 6 months.. I was not really sure this was the way ahead.. So absolutely right.. it was difficult!


Readers, Stay tuned for the part 2 of the interview.

In the mean time, check out the interview with Chinmayi – Playback Singer!




  • Iniyaal said:

    Interesting… I am a huge fan of Kalyan varma’s photos and website. This is an inspiring interview for people like me caught in the cross-raods between work for livelihood and work for passion.

  • chetan Pandare said:

    Dear sir
    I love wildlife photography.wildlife photography is my passion

    become a wildlife photographer is my dream sir.pls sir i request u to pls suggest me.How can i do wildlife photographer course.pls give me the contact & details of wildlife Photographer Course institutes.

    Thank u Sir
    Chetan Pandare.

  • anusha rani said:


    dear sir
    ilove wild life photography.photography is my life.

    sir, iam studying b.tech final year.i am interested in wildlife photography,because in this course only iam happy.how to come good wild life photographer.pls tell me suggestion.

    thanks sir
    anusha rani