AVIUM, a collection of wildlife photos by three friends Sadeepa Gunawardena, Raveendra Siriwardena and Milinda Wattegedara was launched on Saturday 5th November at the Lionel Wendt.

The Weekend Nation spoke to the co-authors of the book which is a collection of 134 exquisite photographs captured in all parts of the country showcasing the diversity of the island’s wildlife in all its splendour.

According to Sadeepa, who is a marketeer by profession, wildlife photography is an affair that demands a great deal of discipline and dedication, apart from talent, the necessary gear and equipment to boot. “We capture the subjects in their own natural habitats. For this we have to watch them closely yet carefully and patiently until the time is right,” he said.

avium-1Milinda is attached to the telecommunications sector while Raveendra is an HR professional.

When asked how they manage to pursue their passion while also managing the responsibilities at their respective jobs, Raveendra said that the support the three of them receive from their home fronts is immense.

“We are really grateful to our families for tolerating us because we’re always absent – being away at work on weekdays or in the wilds during weekends,” added Raveendra.
The trio had started working on AVIUM in 2015. The collection includes photographs captured over the past five years. For them deciding which pictures to include in the book was a task by itself.

Ever since the idea was conceived to publish their work, the three of them had worked and travelled separately to make sure as much terrain as possible was captured and covered geographically. The book and the exhibition serves to encourage young and aspiring wildlife photographers to pursue their passions while encouraging the younger generations in general to admire and conserve Sri Lankan wildlife and its rich diversity which makes the country one of the most sought-after travel destinations in the world.
Milinda noted that over 506 copies have already been pre-ordered via the AVIUM Facebook page and they were planning on putting away 5% of the proceedings to fund a wildlife conservation or a reforestation project. Sadeepa, Milinda and Raveendra also curate a Facebook page called ‘Wild Sri Lanka’ that provides a platform for like-minded, wildlife photographers and enthusiasts to share ideas, knowledge and experiences.
“There is no place per se that one can go to learn or master wildlife photography. We all figure things out as we go. There is a lot we can learn from fellow photographers. Through the page we try to initiate and facilitate a conversation so that ideas, knowledge and thoughts get shared. We also pick the best three wildlife captures every week and feature them in our page with a view to recognizing and motivating up and coming photographers,” said Milinda.

Recalling their own experiences, he said that wildlife photography is relatively more difficult because more often than not animals and their behaviors are unpredictable. On numerous occasions the trio has had to return from the wild empty-handed. When asked what advice they had for amateurs, the friends unanimously agreed that one had to be thick-skinned to survive as a wildlife photographer.

The launch of AVIUM and the exhibition will be on November 5 and 6 from 9.00am to 8.00pm at the J.D.A Perera (Lionel Wendt) in Colombo 07.

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