I am delighted with the way 2015 has progressed for Tom Way Photography. I feel I have achieved a great deal in the last 12 months and my business has moved forward leaps and bounds.
My year started by joining Mark Hamblin in the Cairngorms National Park photographing mountain hares. I love the simplicity of the fine art white on white feel that the hares in snow can achieve. Without Mark’s expert eye, I would have struggled to find a small white subject amongst the vast white mountainside, but our patience was rewarded with some great sightings.
My next UK project was working with a family of local red foxes. I started sitting up in the meadow as the evenings drew out at the end of April and aimed to keep photographing until September. This was my fourth year photographing these foxes and for me I think it was the toughest year. There were two vixens with cubs, but they were young and consequently shy, tending not to appear until dusk. This trait followed with the cubs, and whilst the trail camera monitored lots of cub activity throughout late evening/early morning, there were very few evenings where they came close to the hide. However, the star of this years fox hide was my old favourite and the same male I have photographed since day one. He was active most evenings walking back and forward into the meadow which gave some great opportunities for portrait images.
Throughout the summer I was balancing photographing the foxes whilst exhibiting around the UK, giving talks, and running my Kingfisher and Little Owl Workshops. A truly busy time indeed. I am extremely pleased with the way the exhibitions went this year, and I would like to thank everyone who came along to see my work in large format and purchased a piece for their wall. I have more events lined up for 2016 which will appear on my events page in the New Year.
My talks were widespread speaking to groups as far South as Bournemouth to as far North as York. It is a privilege to be asked to speak at so many organisations, and I thoroughly enjoy talking about my work to like minded photographers and wildlife enthusiasts.
My Kingfisher workshops sold out quickly and were run from April through until October. Different times of the year gave very different opportunities. In April, we saw a lot of activity coming too and from the perch, whilst in June the youngsters were making their first visits. Octobers workshops gave us the chance to work in the soft autumnal light. This was one of my favourite images from this years workshops taken in June of one of the fledgelings in the last rays of summer light.
I know everyone who came along to the kingfisher workshops took home some great images, some of which have been sent to me, and others I have seen on social media. The thrill of witnessing a tiny blue flash dart down the river and then suddenly land a few meters away from you is one that will never get old. I only have a few spaces left for 2016, so if you would like to join me for a day photographing Kingfishers, please follow the link:
In 2015 I increased my UK workshops and started running little owl workshops based in Buckinghamshire. I ran 4 days this year in July and August. Typically the evening activity was better than the mornings with the male, female and two owlets visiting the perches. Currently all 2016 days are already fully booked, but I will be adding some additional dates to the website shortly. To register your interest for additional dates please email firstname.lastname@example.org
With the long evenings drawing in and some colour appearing on the trees, it was time for the annual deer rut. At the end of September I spent most mornings and evenings photographing the red deer. After a few consecutive days I had looked over what I had taken and felt uninspired. Each time I looked through the view finder I felt that the image lacked creativity. A deer roaring in the frame was not quite enough for me this year. I decided to have more of a focus this year for my images. I would only photograph the deer either as backlit or as a silhouette.
In my opinion there is no other UK subject that works aswell as a silhouette as the Red Deer. Instantly recognizable and an iconic UK species. Once this project was formed, all I needed now was some stunning light, a hilly terrain and a deer to be passing through just at the right time. Not too much to ask for?! The number of days that I would look longingly into the perfect sunset falling behind the hillside thinking ‘if only there was a deer there, this would be my shot’, and equally the number of days spent watching the deer march up and down the hillside in the pouring rain with no colour in the sky whatsoever. Eventually things began to fall into place and one evening the skies broke after a stormy afternoon to reveal the setting sun with the deer on the ridge. This image will now feature in large framed format for the first time at the Reading Contempary Art Fair in April.
In terms of overseas travel for 2015 anyone that knows me well will know that I would struggle to go a year without visiting my favourite continent; Africa. I did not have to wait long into the year until I landed in the Kalahari Desert in search of the very charismatic meerkat.
I spent just under two weeks in the desert following one clan around, watching them socialise, hunt and go about their everyday lives. The light in Botswana is truly stunning and although 30 minutes after sunrise the light is too harsh to work in, those first 15 mins are simply magical.
A quick turn around from the dry 45 degree heat of the Kalahari into the humid damp environment of Bwindi impenetrable forest in Uganda. My first trek to see the mountain gorillas was back in 2012, and it was a subject that I was very keen to revist with both an improved eye and improved kit.
I trekked into the mountains for 4 days giving myself the maximum opportunity to take some images I was pleased with. We were successful with sightings on all the treks, but some were more fruitful than others. One of my best selling images this year is titled ‘Windows To The Soul’ taken on my 2nd trek and shows an inquisitive young mountain gorilla looking mesmerizingly down my lens after walking straight towards me.
I believe Andy Rouse states that when he is Gorilla trekking you may only take a handful of images, but make memories that will last a lifetime. Which is certainly true. With the thickness of the forest, the difficult lighting conditions, and the fact you are restricted to just one hour with these amazing mammals means that you are unlikely to fill your memory cards. This trip is about quality rather than quantity and aimed not at the trophy hunter photographer, but the one who truly understands how special it is to the given the opportunity to photograph these critically endangered primates without cages or bars.
I have a few places available on my next gorilla photographic safari in April 2016. If you would like to join me out in Uganda and Rwanda photographing these special animals, please click on the link here:
My blog is titled progression, not only for the progression in my work, but the business moving forward as a whole. It was a huge privilege to have 2 of my images awarded in the ZSL Photography Competition this year. My image, ‘In Mothers Arms’ won The Last Chance to See category, with my ‘The Strongest Bond’ image being award in the Perfect Moment category.
However, the highlight of the year for me was being awarded in the GDT European Wildlife Photographer of the Year Competition with my image ‘Dragon Duel’ taken on Rinca Island, Bali in 2014. To have my work awarded in arguably the second most prestigious wildlife photography competition, and certainly the most innovative was an absolute honour. I can only hope that my next success is just around the corner!
Success and progression can be measured in many different ways depending on the individual situation. Since I started wildlife photography it was a dream of mine to have an image published in the BBC Wildlife Magazine. This is mainly due to the fact that my dad has subscribed to this magazine for over 30 years, and it would be a great feeling for me to see him open the front page, and for one of my images to be printed there. In Octobers issue, it was thrilling to not only see a double page spread of my image ‘Leaping Red’ but my image ‘The Strongest Bond’ image making an appearance on the inside front cover. A real delight for my family to see on the kitchen table.
Looking into 2016 I am hoping that Tom Way Photography will go from strength to strength. I will be working with one of the UK leading photographic tour operators, Natures Images, and guiding trips to the Artic and Shetland. I am also running my own photographic safari to Zambia for the 3rd time, along with releasing dates for more photographic safaris in the near future.
Finally I would like to thank everyone who has either been on a workshop or safari with me this year, attended a talk, or brought an image at an exhibition. As I write this blog I am sitting in the middle of the Maasai Mara listening to the amazing wildlife surrounding me. I am just coming to the end of my last photographic project of 2015, and I could not have asked for a more perfect trip to finish the year. I will leave you with a brand new image from this trip taken only a few days ago. I will be sharing more new images in the New Year on my Facebook page and Twitter.
Very best wishes for a Happy and Healthy New Year.