Wildlife photographer, Toby Gibson, has been specialising in capturing the surreal beauty of underwater landscapes and sea creatures for over 10 years. Recently, he gave up his full-time job as Web Manager for international conservation charity, World Land Trust, to pursue his desire to become a professional freelance photographer. Toby said:
“With my images I hope that I can help others to see the incredible biodiversity of the natural world and inspire them to take positive action to protect what is fragile and threatened.”
Toby Gibson first became interested in photography at the age of 13 when he joined the camera club at school and learnt to develop his own films. He attributes his love of photography to its ability to capture moments in time – as even from a young age he had a terrible memory.
Toby Gibson Photography and Diving – exploring the underwater world
At university, while studying a degree in Aquatic Biology, Toby Gibson combined his interest in photography with his passion for diving and brought an underwater camera for an expedition in 1994 to Eritrea, a country in the Horn of Africa. Toby said:
“The first dive off the coast of Eritrea was just over sand, with a few coral outcrops, but even so I was blown away by the diversity – there was so much to see at every turn. It was incredible to explore areas where almost certainly nobody had dived before.”
Conservation and Attenborough – inspiring habitat protection
It was during this expedition to Eritrea that Toby had his first insight into on-the-ground conservation work; meeting the young Eritrean conservationists who, despite the hardships they had suffered as their country emerged from a horrific war, were determined to protect Eritrea’s threatened habitat and wildlife.
Already a keen naturalist, this meeting sparked Toby’s interest in conservation and ultimately led him to work for the World Land Trust – an organisation that gets straight to the heart of conservation. During his time there, Toby was lucky enough to meet the Trust’s patron David Attenborough – a man he believes to be the greatest natural historian and the best spokesperson for conservation. Toby said:
“I was sat next to Attenborough when he was giving a talk at the launch of the World Land Trust webcams; he was simply awe inspiring – every single person in the room hung on his every word.”
Career change – why become a professional photographer?
Working for an organisation with a mission that truly inspires you would be most people’s dream job, so what instigated the career change?
Photography, diving and conservation have always been Toby’s three passions – finding a way to combine all these interests into everyday life while earning a living has always been an aspiration. But taking the plunge was far from easy.
In September 2012, after opening an art gallery the previous year, the World Land Trust decided to feature Toby Gibson’s images in the exhibition ‘Shooting Wildlife – photography from land, sea and air’. This gave Toby the spur he needed; making him believe that just maybe he could turn a lifelong dream into reality.