I’ve been trialing out 500px over the past few which has lead me to find some amazing photographers, in the field of Wild Life and Nature/Landscape. One such find is Tom Hadley who has some amazing work and is up there as one of the nicest photographers I’ve had on RAW. Anyway let’s get straight into it.
Tell us a little about yourself?
I describe myself as a wildlife/nature/conservation photographer. I’m based in the United Kingdom, where I live in a lovely cottage in the heart of the Hampshire countryside with my girlfriend. I’m semi-pro, working as Head of Digital Production for a marketing communications agency in Southampton during the day when the light is flat!
What made you get into photography?
I was a slightly late starter to photography. I’d always appreciated it and it runs in my family, my Dad is an excellent photographer and his father had been a photographer in the Royal Flying Corps (the precursor to the British RAF) during World War One.
But for some reason it wasn’t until I was 30 and my daughter was born that I really got the bug for it. I’ve been fascinated with wildlife since I was a kid so it was inevitable that would become my chosen field. It didn’t take long for it to become my total obsession and ever since then I’ve been making up for lost time!
How did you get started?
I started out shooting local landscapes and zoo photography as many wildlife photographers do, which was a great way to self-teach myself the basics. Although that was fun and I am a supporter of zoos and the work they do, it didn’t take long for me to feel constrained and unfulfilled by taking pictures of captive animals. So I made a decision to leave that behind, improve my equipment and work very hard on my fieldcraft to allow me to photograph wildlife in its natural environment.
What sort of photography do you mainly do?
These days I concentrate solely on wildlife and landscapes. My real interest is in telling nature conservation stories and making images that can achieve something, rather than just having artistic merit. A great many of our planet’s species and environments are in serious trouble and I want to raise awareness and educate people to love and respect nature.
What gear are you using?
My standard gear in the bag on a daily basis is a Nikon D2X with Nikon 16-35 f/4, Nikon 50mm f/1.8 and a Sigma 150-500mm f/5-6.3
I use a Manfrotto 055XPROB tripod with a Manfrotto 393 gimbal head and a bunch of ND and polarising filters.
(Don’t tell my girlfriend but a Nikon D7000 is an imminent purchase too!)
Whats your favourite lens and why?
Right now, I’m absolutely loving my most recent lens purchase, the Nikon 16-35mm f/4G ED VR.
It’s super-sharp and you can use front-mounted filters with it, which is a huge advantage for me over the 14-24mm f/2.8.
I shot this image with it in the north of Scotland a couple of months ago and I’m really looking forward to using it more this autumn when the woods near my home are at their most beautiful.
How are you marketing yourself?
Outside of wildlife photography, I’ve worked for digital marketing agencies for over a decade so I have a bit of an advantage in that respect. I’ve made the internet the chief vehicle for promoting my work, through my website and social media. Although the internet is a great resource putting images online and expecting money to roll in doesn’t work, a mistake I think a lot of people make. If you want to sell your work, you have to actually ask people to buy it. If you want to work with an organisation you have to contact them directly and ask them.
What’s your favourite photo you have taken?
Hmm, a tricky question. In all honesty I struggle to ever be 100% happy with my work. I’m very self-critical and it’s that constant quest to always capture something just that little bit better next time that really motivates me. So perhaps it’s easier for me to answer this with a photo that has achieved something I’m proud of.
This image was one of two that made it into the Snow Leopard Trust’s 2011 calendar, so I love it because it’s actually doing something other than just being a good picture. It’s earning real money for a cause that’s very dear to me and it’s hopefully making people stop and think “That’s a beautiful animal, wouldn’t it be a crime if it no longer walked the earth because of us humans”.
Advice for new photographers looking to go pro?
There are two differences between being amateur and professional. The first is consistency, amateur photogs get their preparation, technique, composition and processing right some of the time (and only occasionally all of those elements together), professionals have learnt to be consistent and deliver every time. The second is attention to detail in everything you do. One of my favourite quotes is “Until you make it, fake it”. In other words, make sure you present your work and yourself with the utmost care even if you’re still an amateur hoping to make the step up. If your communication and presentation appear professional, you buy yourself that crucial opportunity for someone to give your work 30 seconds of their time. If you don’t, you can be assured it went in the bin after 5!