Nature’s finest, A USW student success story

The University of South Wales has been lucky enough to have successful students come out of it. One of those students is Tom Campbell, who now works as a wildlife lighting and camera person. 

On a wildlife shoot in Glenshee-Scotland

Tom started by studying photography, generic photography, as he describes it. In the beginning he wanted to do portrait photography and during the course he discovered a love for Natural History photography, which he didn’t know he had. 

People discover their passions in different ways, it doesn’t necessarily have to be the first path you chose, or that path could have different paths to chose from. Tom thought he wanted to be a photographer, until he was asked to do a photo documentary about 20 different people out in the streets in Cardiff. 

“I was absolutely petrified about doing that” says Tom about the daunting experience.  “It brings you out of your shell. And I was quite shy at the time. You might go out on a shoot with a crew of four or five people who have never met before and suddenly spend a month with them. So those kinds of people skills are really important. So to push yourself out of that shell and go and say hi, I’m so and so I’m doing photography projects at university. Would you mind if I take a portrait of you and find that the majority of people say yes? I thought everyone would just turn me down and it would just be an absolutely soul destroying project. But no. Most people said yes, and then it became exciting”.

Flexibility and the ability to adapt is very important in any field you want to be successful in. Tom was able to put himself out there in a situation he didn’t feel particularly comfortable in, and the outcome pushed him in the direction of what became his professional path.

Filming in the Cairngorms

Tom likes to say that “Andy (Pearsall) and Tim (Collier) were my main guys”. Lecturers are a very key part in any student’s success and Tom is an example of this as well. Tim supported him in terms of documentary wildlife while Andy supported him in terms of the digital side of things. Lecturers are here to help and support us students, and USW has great lecturers. don’t be shy and ask for the help you need. There are people who would love to help you out with anything, even if we may forget so. Taking advantage of the tips or support you get is what can make the difference between becoming a success story and just sail by. 

Filming in Cambodia for BBC’sOur Changing Planet

According to Tom, there’s several ways to get into wildlife filmmaking, before people would sort of fall into it, but nowadays there’s such a movement for wildlife filmmaking, it has become a popular thing, there’s a lot of people who are passionate about it. Tom’s recommendation is “try to stand out in a crowd, essentially. The best thing you can do is discover what you’re passionate about, discover what sort of filmmaker you want to be. The best way of doing that is to make film”. He says it may be obvious, but every film you make, you get better. Make a film and ask people for opinions ask “could you watch my film? I’d love to get your opinion” “what do you say about the narrative?” “what could I do better in terms of constructing this story?” “what could I do better in terms of camera techniques?” “what could i do better in terms of editing”. 

There’s a lot to take in consideration while making a film, wildlife or otherwise, and it’s good to get people’s opinion because in the end you want them to see your films. Lastly, Tom says the more films you make, the better you become and the more aware of it you are. Recently, Tom worked on a project called our Changing Planet  which is a show coming out in April 24th.

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