Wildlife Through a Lens 16 March 2021   

Multi-award winning, wildlife photographer, Tom Way gave an excellent presentation to the club. His images have a very distinctive style with usually just one animal as the subject either as a close up portrait or against a simple uncluttered background. The image of a white rhino is a typical of Tom's style with it’s clean background and unconventional, centrally placed subject.
TW rhinoTom began a career in sport and travelled to many parts of the world but about 10 years ago took the plunge and changed direction completely to become a professional wildlife photographer. Realising that his images had to sell to provide him with a living he had to work out what makes a successful image. Why do some images sell and others not? Learning from his mistakes he recognised that he needed to capture the character and personality of his subjects. Even before he presses the shutter he has in mind what the image would look like as a fine art print. Favouring mostly a fine art black and white style of photography which is not usual for wildlife subjects, he has proved that this style really works for him. Any colour in his prints is very subtle and does not distract from the character of the subject. He seeks out subjects with their own individual personalities whether it is an aged scar-faced lion, a mud covered, angry looking buffalo or the thoughtful face of a gorilla.
Tom says ‘do your own thing’ and develop your own individual style. He has taken his own photography to the next level and certainly stands out from the crowd with his own very successful individual style.
To eliminate distracting backgrounds Tom says ‘get down low’ and use the sky as the background. This viewpoint makes large mammals such as elephants or giraffes look even more impressive. Tom has even laid down on the ground, close to a full grown elephant to get just the image he wanted!
TW elephantDedicated to his profession Tom will wait for hours or even days to get just the image he has in his mind. Light is very important and he will wait until his subject has the early morning or evening light to bring out the detail. He advocates quality over quantity so is prepared to wait until he gets jut the expression of the subject or the composition he wants.
Sometimes he shoots very tight with just the head of the subject sharp but other times prefers a wider view to give an impression of habitat. Clean backgrounds are very important for his style of wildlife image with just enough background or foreground to indicate the type of habitat.
The image of the lone elephant against a sunset also shows a large area of dry, cracked mud to capture the emotion he felt about the drought in the area at the time he took the photograph.
Using mainly a 400mm 2.8 prime lens he finds the shallow depth of field can eliminate distracting background detail.
Tom showed us the methods he uses to edit his images using Lightroom. Usually converting the image to monochrome, he then makes adjustments to bring out the contrast and advises photographers to be careful not over sharpen their images.
Tom feels that an image should be printed to be able to see its true quality and to make you a better photographer. Seeing his images in print is very important to him and he regularly exhibits his impressive large scale prints in galleries and exhibitions around the world.
Club members greatly enjoyed this very relaxed and informative presentation. Tom was thanked for his fascinating evening and for showing the club his superb images and an insight into his life as a professional photographer. PM
Images © Tom Way       See more images on Tom's Website