William Fortescue: A Year Behind The Lens
“Trying to work out how to describe 2021 is like trying to paint the Sistine Chapel ceiling with chopsticks. So, ignoring the obvious and refusing to use the words “unprecedented”, “lockdown”, or “socially distanced”, I’ll attempt to look back at 2021 with fondness for, despite its glaring faults, I’ve found lots to be positive about.“
Talented wildlife photographer William Fortescue recently shared a post on what 2021 meant to him as a creator and a passionate supporter of the conservation efforts of David Shepherd Wildlife Foundation (DSWF) and Saving the Wild (STW):
January simultaneously feels like yesterday and a decade ago. There was a wave of optimism that the coming year was going to far exceed the previous one and light was, perhaps, at the end of the tunnel.
I started the year where I finished 2021: Amboseli. Working again with dear friend Eric Ole Kalama, without a doubt one of Kenya’s finest guides, searching for Craig, an elephant as famous as any celebrity in that part of the world.
For four days we drove around the park, finding not just Craig but Vronsky as well, another physically impressive elephant, sparring with another male. The images from these two encounters have been fantastically received and I’ve been blown away by the response.
Leaving Amboseli I found myself on the eastern border of the Maasai Mara, working with the Pangolin Project, a relatively young organisation focussed on the protection, research and conservation of the world’s most illegally trafficked animal.
Founded by the inimitable Dr. Claire Okell, we spent the best part of a week documenting the work they do, from pangolin collaring and monitoring through to community education and ranger training through the charities ‘pangolin ambassadors’.
Trips like this reinforce why I enjoy my job so much, seeing first hand the work done on the ground by teams like the Pangolin Project shows just what goes in to protecting the animals I make a career out of photographing and highlights why I endeavour to put so much emphasis on using my work to raise awareness and funding for their conservation.
With this idea in mind, I was delighted to announce two new conservation partnerships this year with David Shepherd Wildlife Foundation (DSWF) and Saving the Wild (STW).
David Shepherd Wildlife Foundation are steeped in art history and have garnered a world wide reputation for their conservation work in Africa and Asia. Founded in 1984 by the late wildlife artist David Shepherd, the organisation places great emphasis on their holistic approach, ensuring their work is as much about communities as it is about wildlife. A vital approach as Africa’s population is set to be the largest of any continent by 2050.
Saving the Wild was founded and still run by Jamie Joseph, a woman as brave as she is determined. Since 2014 she has used her platform to fight poachers, (corrupt) politicians and (crooked) law enforcement, throwing all her inexhaustible energy at the rhino poaching crisis. Our paths crossed in Kenya, where her work protecting the vital Kimana Wildlife Corridor plays a great role conserving the regions crucial wildlife populations.
Both charities have been instrumental this year as a monumental drop in tourism numbers has provided alarming shortcomings in available funding for wildlife protection. It is with immense pleasure we are able to donate 10% of the revenue from our print sales to these two charities and have some exciting announcements in the pipeline for 2022.
Perhaps the biggest development this year was signing with Red Eight Gallery back in March. Our debut collection launched on March 25th and ever since we have been heartened by the response both here and in the States. Having spent the last couple of months in the U.K. it’s been a real treat to bump in to prints around London or have friends sending selfies with them. We’ve got some truly exciting plans in the works for 2022 and a new print collection launching in the new year – one I’m confident is some of my best work yet.
To all those that have kindly purchased prints this year, thank you. Your support means the world and keeps me on the road creating new work.
About William Fortescue
Described by Square Mile Magazine as “One of the finest wildlife photographers of his generation”, William firmly believes we are born with an intrinsic love for nature, and feels extremely fortunate to be able to spend his life pursuing this love. He hopes to use images to evoke emotion, champion change and encourage positivity in the battle to protect our last wild places.
Represented by Red Eight Gallery in London, William’s prints raise vital funding for two charities, David Shepherd Wildlife Foundation and Saving The Wild, both of whom he is working with to document their brilliant work in protecting some of the world’s most iconic species.