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Who am I?

Photo: Tommy Solberg

Who am I?

Although my ancestors can be traced back to Ireland in the 1700’s, I am a Norwegian photographer through and through, living in the village of Vestfossen in the Øvre Eiker district just outside Drammen.  When I was 11 years old my older brother John returned from England bringing me a Pentax Spotmatic.  My purchase of a Sun 300 m/m at the neat sum of NOK 300 a short while after, enabled me to start photographing birds.  I was given my own bird column in the local newspaper and I regularly submitted articles illustrated with my own photos.  Since then nature and photography have been an all-absorbing interest.


In 1987 I took my university degree in biology, where the main subject concerned the biology of the great snipe’s courtship displays on the Hardangervidda Mountain Plateau.  However, I did not become a researcher.  Instead I ended up in WWF, now the World Wide Fund For Nature, as a civilian worker  and on completion of my non-military service the organisation employed me on a half time basis as an expert adviser.  The work provided exciting challenges in nature conservation projects such as the protection of coniferous forests and large predators.  Furthermore in the 1990’s I was fortunate enough to participate in the initiation of two large nature conservation projects in the third world, one on Madagascar and one on Sumatra in Indonesia.  Both projects resulted in the establishment of national parks, respectively the Zombitze National Park on Madagascar and the Bukit Tigapuluh National Park on Sumatra. 


In stead of working full time for the organisation I chose to use half of the working week on photography and my own projects such as writing books and submitting articles for publication in a number of periodicals and magazines.  In 2000 I resigned my part time employment at WWF and made a one hundred per cent commitment to working as a freelance photographer, writer and author.  Fortunately I kept my connection to WWF as freelance editor for WWF-Norway’s magazine “Verdens Natur”.


At this point of time I had started collaboration with Tom Helgesen on a book project, “Naturperler i Buskerud”.  Its success of 10,000 books being sold during one year inspired us to write more books and together we established our own publishing company “Forlaget Tom & Tom”.  We have published more than ten books, the greatest success perhaps being “100 Natural Wonders of Norway” which has sold 20,000 copies and has also been published in English.


In addition I have published nature books through “Norsk Bokforlag”, including “Magnificent Africa” and “Det ville Norden” about the Scandinavia wilds.  Magnificent Africa sold almost 28,000 copies in Norway and in 2003 it was translated into Swedish and won the Panda Book of the Year Award given by WWF-Sweden for the best description of nature in words and pictures.  The book has also been translated into English and Spanish and the collective total of printed copies has reached approximately 50,000.


My photos have also won awards in several international nature photography competitions including 2nd and 3rd prize in the BBC‘s Wildlife Photographer of the Year”.  In 2008 I was one of five Norwegian nature photographers invited to participate in the great European nature photography project “Wild Wonders of Europe”, which aims to photograph spectacular nature and wildlife in all the European countries.  My mission is to photograph wild mountain nature in the Caucasus in Russia.


Since leaving school I have travelled to many fantastic places all over the world and thus my photographic activities are not limited geographically.  I work on photo projects from Pole to Pole, from Spitsbergen in the Arctic via Africa and South America to the Antarctic.


The aspect of nature conservation forms a vital part of my photography and the conveyance of my knowledge of nature.  If my photos, books and articles on nature and wildlife can be used to promote the enjoyment of nature and inspire nature conservation and biological diversity, then much of the purpose has been achieved!


Tom Schandy, 3320 Vestfossen, Tel. 00 47 95979195 E-mail: tschandy@online.no


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