Rarely is life plain sailing and in the case of Tesni Ward, life threw a curveball that saw her go from javelin thrower to professional photographer. Caroline Underhill, our Global Marketing Director and Head of CSR, spoke to Tesni about how a career-ending injury reignited her love for photography.
Former Team GB athlete Tesni Ward had her athletic career cut short when an unfortunate and freak accident during a warm up meant she was no longer able train or compete at the level she aspired to.
This enforced time away from the athletics track, led her to pick up her DSLR camera once again, a hobby she’d previously had to set aside to dedicate time to training.
With the Peak District National Park conveniently on her doorstep, Tesni found comfort getting familiar with her camera again, exploring the wild and captivating landscapes. With a love for the great outdoors, it seemed only natural that a genuine passion for wildlife photography would grow into what is now her full-time career.
“When you spend time with wildlife, you become invested in it. And I became very attached, very quickly. Now I am absolutely bonkers for wildlife”.
Tesni aspires to use her images and stories to promote conservation and educate the public on the struggle’s which wildlife face. It’s her strong belief that the welfare of the wildlife should always come first in photography.
What stood out when talking to Tesni is her desire to truly understand her subject and best capture each animal’s unique personality and character. She explained that wildlife photography is often unpredictable, and at times can be extremely challenging; It can sometimes be weeks before that elusive shot lines up. Yet the promise of a unique image or experience keeps her coming back.
As Tesni’s career has evolved, her approach is to spend time working with the same individual animals, with the aim of establishing a level of trust. Once the individual animal recognises she’s not a threat it begins to share unique peeks into its daily life, which Tesni describes as extremely rewarding.
“By spending extended periods of time with specific animals or species, I’m privileged enough to witness behaviours and interactions that are rarely seen by most people”.
Tesni’s photography has taken her across the globe to Alaska, Africa, Japan and Greece but, as the saying goes ‘there’s no place like home’. When asked what her favourite subject to photograph was, her resounding response was the Eurasian Badger. Little did she know that back in 2016 a photography project would turn into a complete and utter obsession with this particular species. Having invested over 2,000 hours of observation in the past two years alone, Tesni’s second family, known as The Elder Clan of badgers have displayed behaviours that to her knowledge have never been recorded before. Highly intelligent, social and loving animals, Tesni’s Badger Diaries project now extends beyond photography as she works to protect and conserve the species.
Today, alongside various other projects, Tesni runs regular workshops and tours, not only to help others capture beautiful images and teach individuals the art of photography, but also to give them the opportunity to experience how magical the natural world is.
“I hope to inspire and excite people who may otherwise have no interest in the natural world, showing how important it is that we conserve wildlife and the habitats they live in. We can all have a positive impact, not matter how small’.
We are delighted that Tesni will be joining us in late September for our next Freedom Client event. She’ll be sharing her experiences (both good and bad!) of working with wildlife, the stories behind some of her favourite moments caught on camera, and top tips for aspiring photographers.
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