Many of us lead mundane lives, but not Roy Toft. This amiable wildlife photographer has had enough adventures for many lifetimes!
Originally, his major was wildlife biology at Polytechnic State University, but a camera, a Canon AE1, given as a graduation gift by his father, changed the course of his life. Photography became his passion and his degree in biology came in handy!
However, a fledgling photographer needs to build up a reputation, and after he graduated, Toft came back to San Diego and began to work at the Wild Animal Park. During his college years, he had worked there as a volunteer, so it was a good training ground.
During that time, he constantly took pictures and honed his craft. He began to sell these pictures to stock agencies which he continues to this day. His pictures have appeared in National Geographic and Audubon Magazines. His pictures have also been featured in Zoonooz.
In 1991, he met famous National Geographic photographer, Michael [Nick] Nichols who had come to the Wild Animal Park to do a story. Nichols took Toft under his wing and Toft worked as his assistant on this assignment. This successful endeavor inspired him to quit his job at the Wild Animal Park and strike out on his own. He then went on an expedition to Borneo with his friend, Bill Toone of Ecolife, to document the trip.
In 1993, Toft wrote Nichols asking for advice. Because their previous collaboration had been so successful, Nichols asked him to join him and work together on a global tiger story. This turned out to be one of the last epic pieces in the December 1997 issue of National Geographic magazine.
They worked together from 1994 to 1996, travelling to India three times to document the plight of the tigers. During their time in India, Toft did unique work in that he set up all the remote cameras, which at the time, was a new concept. This enabled him to capture pictures of tigers that others had not before. It also provided him with invaluable field experience.
Since 2000, Toft has dedicated himself to working on passion projects, such as documenting toucans in Central and South America, the endemic animals of Cozumel, or pumas in Chile, to name a few. In addition, he has been guiding photographic tours to various parts of the world.
Leading expeditions has been a good fit for him. He has always had a teaching bent and even went back to school to get his teaching credential, and he had already made many local connections from his previous expeditions.
As of now, he offers six to eight trips a year. In March, he goes to Africa, usually Botswana. In July, he goes to Brazil and Alaska in August. In December, he goes to Costa Rica. He leads his clients on photographic adventures they will not soon forget.
For more information or to see some of his stunning pictures, check out his website at www.toftphoto.com