Ever since I was little I’ve always been extremely competitive. It was this competitive nature which got me into photography. Once a year in my early teens, we would have family holiday. My stepdad was tasked with capturing the images from these trips, so he would be seen flaunting his expensive looking film camera everywhere we went!
Unfortunately for me, at a time when I didn’t appreciate the art and skill involved, his constant stopping and lengthy periods of time composing single shots would frustrate me. After all, I was an impatient young teenager with the sole intent of getting in the queue for the next ride at Disneyworld! It was this frustration that in the end started a long and rewarding journey for me. I challenged him that I would be able to capture the same quality image without spending what felt was hours taking an individual image, and with this challenge I’ve never looked back. My parents were kind enough to buy me a camera for my birthday, allowing me to take pictures once a year on the annual trip, but it wasn’t until I was in my early 20’s that I started to give photography more attention. With upgraded equipment and a new thirst for photography, I would go out often on weekends, exploring the Peak District with friends and other photographers, snapping away at anything I found to be visually appealing. It wasn’t until I decided to go off on my own to Alaska, with the sole intent of photographing the famous coastal Brown Bears, that everything changed for me.
Being surrounded by “true” wilderness, camping on the beach whilst surrounded by wolves, bears and all manner of other wild animals gave me the first real sense of freedom. But it also lead to me becoming much more emotionally attached and involved in each individual animals’ lives and stories. The Salmon Run wasn’t as good as previous years, there were less bears and wolves and the clam population had all but collapsed. Why? Suspected human interaction and disturbance. Although they cannot know for sure, rangers were busy conducting a three-year study to try and answer this question. It was at this point, having become so immersed and mesmerized by the beautiful Alaskan surroundings, the challenges the bears faced each and every day and the fantastic charismatic charm of each individual that I realised, perhaps my images can in some way make a difference? Perhaps by highlighting the many challenges that wildlife faces, along with the enchanting side many don’t see, I could help them in some small way. This “quest” was only amplified when I lost my job early in 2016, leading to me making the decision to try and do my photography full time. My appreciation for wildlife over the past six months has only amplified and I feel truly blessed when they are willing to share a small portion of their day with me. Over the past few weeks I have been having some great success with a local badger sett, having searched and failed for many months to only recently discover a suitable location. Every evening I spend with them is a true blessing, as I regularly post updates to my social media friends and followers on how each individual is getting along. I can only hope that this insight gets more people talking about the unfair persecution of these charismatic animals and leads to a brighter future for them all.
What do you love about photography?
I would not have been fortunate enough to experience half of the things that I have were it not for photography. Spending time amongst nature, as well as being able to share these experiences with others, is an extremely rewarding and enlightening gift. It’s not uncommon for me to be walking around with a gleaming grin on my face after an unexpected encounter with wildlife or otherwise.
My dream shoot?
It would be impossible for me to narrow down the things I aspire to photograph, but instead I have certain things with higher priorities. I’m very eager to get out to see and photograph the Mountain Gorillas in Africa, as well as wanting to spend some time in India with the tigers in Canada or Svalbard with Polar bears. I’m hoping to tick some of these off next year!
Time with Camera?
I’ve been shooting “regularly” for two years now.
ANYTHING wildlife, but I’m particularly fond of mammals. I love how expressive they can be, with each individual having their own quirky personality.
Favourite Piece of Kit?
Canon 500mm mkii. I don’t know how I ever coped without it!
Mountain cabin or beach house?
Tough choice! Mountain cabin for photography, beach house for relaxing!
Last book you read?
I would be too ashamed to say!
If I could travel in time?
I would LOVE to see the Ancient Egyptian culture. It has fascinated me ever since I was a small child watching The Mummy. I wouldn’t mind popping in to see a T Rex either…
What is the furthest you’ve been from home?
Bali was a very, very long flight from the UK, but this trip was primarily for relaxing rather than photography!
If you were a crayon, which colour would you be?
A mix of red and purple. I’m not one of these people who can name quirky colours, but google informs me it’s called “Tyrian Purple”, or should I say #810d51 😉
Top of your bucket list?
My bucket list is home to over 300 goals! But currently, I’d say the Mountain Gorilla aspiration is the top dog currently!
[su_box title=”Tesni Ward – Featured Photographer” box_color=”#810d51″ radius=”1″]Tesni Ward.
Weekday Activity: Wildlife Photographer.
Website: Tesni Ward Photography
Location: Sheffield, UK.
All images and text copyright ©2016 Tesni Ward