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Capturing fine art beauty in the land of the giants

By Matthew Oxley | 2 years ago

We are pleased to announce Tom Way as our November joint monthly winner in the Open competition of the 2018 Sony World Photography Awards. His striking image of a bull Elephant walking across a dry lake bed, titled 'Thirst', was taken in Kenya.

Tom is a professional award-winning fine art wildlife photographer based in the UK. He leads a number of photographic wildlife safaris in Africa. 


Hi Tom. Congratulations on winning the joint monthly prize for November. Firstly, please introduce yourself and tell us a little about your photography 

I am a professional award winning fine art wildlife photographer based in the UK. I have been awarded in various international competitions including the European Wildlife Photographer Of The Year. I favour a fine art style approach to photography and regularly exhibit my work in galleries and exhibitions.

I spend the majority of my time overseas focusing on large mammals around the world. My main passion is Africa where assignments have seen me focus on Elephant and Lion in Kenya and Leopard in Zambia.


Tell us about the winning shot... how, when and why did this image come about? 

This image titled 'Thirst' was taken out in Kenya last February. On one particular evening, I witnessed this large bull elephant striding out across a dry lake bed in search of water. 

Why photography? What does the medium mean to you? 

The medium of photography can be powerful. It is a way of capturing a moment in time well enough so that it is visually arresting to someone that was not even there. 


Talk to us about your approach to fine art wildlife photography. Why did you go down this avenue and what do you attempt to bring to each image? 

I look to create imagery which is both powerful and engaging and where the images look best exhibited as large fine art prints. I did not set out simply to document what I was seeing on location but to take an image to give the audience a sense of the beauty, power and majesty of the subjects which I see.

In your opinion, what elements go into making powerful and impactful nature and wildlife photography? 

For me, an image must contain one of 3 components: light, character or simplicity. 


Tell us about your most memorable shoot - what were some challenges you faced? 

As primarily a large mammal photographer, Africa is my destination of choice. I enjoy working on the Eastern side of the continent where the open plains are a perfect canvas for my fine art style. One of the challenges I face is that I am working with potentially large and dangerous animals and getting close enough or low enough can be difficult. One of my most memorable moments on location was when I was working with Elephants last year. I was looking for a wide and low angle image and to be on foot with the largest of land mammals only a few meters away was thrilling and a breathtaking experience. 


Do you have a photographic philosophy? 

Try not to be influenced too heavily by other artists' work. Focus on taking images with a style that pleases you. Find your own direction and follow a path of photography that you both enjoy and works well for your business model.