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About the Art: Tom Way

As part of our European Wildlife Photographer of the Year exhibition, we chat to Tom Way about his wildlife photography. 

  • About the Art: Tom Way, 'Dragon Duel', Tom Way
    'Dragon Duel', Tom Way

Tell us the story behind your photo in this exhibition

To photograph the largest lizard on the planet is a challenge in itself.

Not only is Komodo National Park difficult to access but getting close enough to the animals can be extremely dangerous. Komodo dragons weigh up to 150kg and have venom and carry fatal bacteria in their bite.

I wanted to try and take close-up portraits of the dragons, so we drifted silently in a small Zodiac boat towards two resting on the shoreline of Rinca Island. The only sound was that of the lapping waves against the beach and the buzz of cicada in the trees. Suddenly there was an explosive whip of the tale as the dragons reared themselves on their back legs clashing together. I wanted to frame the action as large as I could in the frame to show the detail of the skin and to highlight the sand blast against the dark background. There was something extremely prehistoric about this titanic battle as the claws grated against the scales. I felt like it was a snap shot back into a bygone age.

How long did you have to wait for this shot?

I was in Komodo National Park for 3 days.

Did you use any particular equipment?

Canon EOS-1d X, 500mm, 1/3200 sec at f4; ISO 320

What would you like people to think about when they see your work?

Typically when photographing large mammals, I am looking to portray the beauty, power and majesty of these wonderful animals.

How long have you been a photographer and how did you get started in your career?

I have been a professional wildlife photographer for five years. My passion began whilst travelling after university and wanting to document what I was seeing in the most aesthetic way possible. I decided that with both my passion for wildlife and travel a career as a wildlife photographer would be perfect. After leaving my job, I have spent the last five years building a business in this industry.

What would you advise someone wanting to start taking photos of wildlife in their local environment?

I would advise that they would need to both spend time with the subject and learn the lay of the land. In this way, you can foresee where the light focuses at certain times of day and also where the subject is likely to be. By knowing your subject well, you are more likely to photograph unusual behaviour.

What have you been up to since the European Wildlife Photographer of the Year 2015 competition? What projects are you working on now?

Since the 2015 competition, I have been working mostly in East Africa photographing both Lions and Elephants. As a result, I was very pleased to have one of my images awarded in the European Wildlife Photographer of the Year 2016.

What are your favourite scenes to photograph?

I enjoy photographing in scenes of pure simplicity with no tension points. The open savannahs of East Africa appeal to me as I can separate my subject from the background with ease.

See more of Tom's work on his website and see 'Dragon Duel' on display at the European Wildlife Photographer of the Year exhibition until 15 January 2017.