CASPER, Wyo. — Over the years, Casper resident T.J. Vernon has been to many exotic locales, from the jungles of South America to the plains of Africa and the mountains of Nepal. On every trip, he’s traveled with camera in hand, motivated by a passion and skill for wildlife photography. Now, he’s decided to share that passion with others, and is opening his own wildlife photography business.
Vernon developed his love for the outdoors, wildlife and nature at a very young age, and over time that passion merged with an interest in photography. It’s just been in the past five years or so that Vernon said he’s worked with professional-grade equipment, but he could often be seen with a camera in hand for much of his life.
Vernon, who works as an anesthesiologist at Banner Wyoming Medical Center, said his job allows him to pursue his passion much more fully.
“I’ve always enjoyed the outdoors and animals and photography since I was just a kid,” he said. “As I got older I was able to do it more; especially since coming to Wyoming and working here [at the hospital] I’ve been able to go on some really fun trips and get some nice photography equipment.”
Those trips have allowed Vernon to hone his photography skills by capturing on film animals that most Americans would never be able to see outside of a zoo. Recently, Vernon returned from a trip to Brazil where he explored one of the few places on Earth to find wild jaguars. On another recent expedition, he traveled to the Great North of Canada to photograph, among other things, polar bears.
“I just try to find interesting animals and interesting behaviors,” he said. “I try to get things that are unique and images that people might not have seen before.
“My favorite trip was Africa; the things I saw there were just phenomenal. And this jaguar trip was probably my second favorite.”
But while Vernon has traveled across the globe as a photographer, he also points out with a smile that there is plenty of opportunity for great wildlife art in his home state of Wyoming.
“There is tons to photograph in Wyoming,” he said. “Even right here in Casper, we have a bald eagle nest, we get beavers and foxes and so much more. Wyoming is a beautiful state and I love photographing it; it’s not like all my photography is done far away by any means.”
Over time, Vernon began thinking about sharing his art with the world. The idea of starting a photography business was born, and wife Kayleigh Vernon said an underlying tenet of that idea was a desire to make art affordable.
“One thing T.J. said to me was, ‘A lot of times you’ll walk into someone’s home and there’s not much art, because it’s just so expensive,'” Kayleigh Vernon said. “He told me that he wants to make art that way more people would be able to afford.”
“Photographers who make their art their career, they need to make enough to live off of, and that’s why the prices are high,” T.J. Vernon added. “Because I’m not making this my full-time job and just doing it as a sort of supplement, I can afford to not charge as much.”
Determined to open his own photography business, T.J. Vernon began looking for a place to display his art, and before long he found Food For Thought Market, located at 420 W. 1st St.
The market was enthusiastic about working with Vernon, he said, and he will celebrate the grand opening of his new gallery on Nov. 27 from 4 to 7 p.m. at the market.
Vernon’s art will be available at the market, and potential customers can also connect with him on social media at Thomas James Photography on Facebook and Instagram. He said he doesn’t currently have a website, but he is considering creating one in the future if his business does well.
“I’m just looking forward to continuing to grow as a photographer and to share that with everyone,” he said with a smile.