John Wiseman's transition from world of finance to globally recognised photographer

Financial adviser turned wildlife photographer John Wiseman is turning heads around the globe with his imagery. Now a major exhibition of his work is being opened by Ray Martin in Canberra.

John Wiseman's work is so good Australian photographic royalty Ken Duncan described him as one of the nation's rising stars and hosted an exhibition of what he describes as "John's outstanding wildlife images" at his Central Coast Gallery at Erina Heights.

Duncan introduced him as someone with a passion and the drive, knowledge and determination to reinvent himself into an extraordinary photographer who captures exotic birds, big game and wildlife all around the globe.

In the process his work has caught the eye of Sir David Attenborough as well as the ambassadors, high commissioners and presidents of many countries.

Wiseman has also become a travelling companion and good friend of television personality Ray Martin who will officially open a major exhibition featuring a body of his work from various countries at the M16 Artspace in Canberra on November 5. The exhibition will run until November 22.

Nature's gift: John Wiseman with the Ambassador for Ecuador H.E Mauricio Montalvo at the Ecuadorian Embassy in Canberra.

Nature's gift: John Wiseman with the Ambassador for Ecuador H.E Mauricio Montalvo at the Ecuadorian Embassy in Canberra.

The Ecuadorian ambassador to Australia H.E Mauricio Montalvo will be in attendance along with ambassadors from Costa Rica, Peru and other countries.

"I am hoping the high commissioner of Kenya will also be there," he said.

Also displayed will be a letter from the president of Ecuador along with a handwritten one from Sir David Attenborough.

Wiseman said it followed from an exhibition he did last year at the Ecuadorian ambassador's residence of photos he had taken in Ecuador. Which came after the production of his first book that was entered in the Australian Institute of Professional Photography Awards and won gold.

He had 50 copies of the Ecuador book made and decided he wanted to give one to the ambassador who loved it. He then asked if the Ecuadorian president would like one and was asked to write a handwritten letter to send with it, which took him three days.

"I got a lovely letter back from him. Then I thought who else would I like to have a book. And thought when it comes to wildlife there is no one higher on the planet than Sir David Attenborough. I tracked down his mailing address and sent it over with a handwritten note, that took another three days to write, and within less than a week of him receiving the book I got a handwritten reply saying it was spectacular. In the letter I told him it was through his film on the Booted Racket-Tail Hummingbirds that motivated me to go to Ecuador."

While running a successful financial planning business, Mr Wiseman's constant quest to be creative led him into photography. He has performed in 17 musicals but the interest in capturing images with a camera grew from watching friends who worked in the media as photographers.

He started taking photos of family and friends 15 years ago and as his eye and skill improved he started getting serious about photographing landscapes and then wildlife.

Around that time his son Tyrone Wiseman and daughter-in-law Louise Wiseman took over Wiseman Financial Services.

Wiseman found great satisfaction in photography and enjoyed the constant learning that resulted in him traveling overseas on photographic missions. That included nine expeditions with Duncan.

"Ken had a lot to do with me starting to photograph nature and how to recognise the principles of composition. I did a lot of workshops with him."

Duncan saw enormous potential and said "John Wiseman is definitely one of Australia's up and coming photographers. He has practiced his craft, honed his skills and developed into a gifted photographer. He already has national and international awards to his credit."

Since taking more of an interest in wildlife Wiseman has tirelessly pursued his passion with two or three photographic expeditions a year to locations such as India, Africa, Costa Rica, Iceland, Norway, Scandinavia and South America. And Ray Martin has been a regular travelling companion.

"I was booked to host a self drive trip in Namibia with Ray in July. He is a very good photographer and has a terrific eye. He sees shots that most people would just walk straight past".

The two met in Hobart after being introduced by a mutual friend in Tasmania. That was followed by a month long trip to Chile, Argentina and the Galapagos and others to Tasmania, New Zealand, Norway and Finland.

Wiseman said to become good at anything it helps to be mentored by the best and he has been fortunate to know and learn from many great photographers. From Duncan he learned how to turn his digital and visual content into spectacular, archival, collectable, physical artworks.

"You learn not only how to take a photograph. But how to finish the job to get it in a frame".

Wiseman said it was also important to develop your own style and that was a constantly evolving process.

"I've still got a long way to go. But the secret to any photography is being there."

Wiseman said patience was definitely a virtue. On one big cat expedition in India he got up at 3am each day in 45 degree heat and went out on 11 safaris before seeing a tiger.

"I have been to India three times in the last three years and can't wait to get back. I was in Kenya in January. I wanted to photograph the Reticulated Giraffe, the Grevy's Zebra and the Gerenuk. The three animals are pretty unique to Kenya and Ethiopia.

"I managed to get them all. But five days after taking a photograph of a super tusker named Tim, one of the elephants with the biggest tusks in the world and probably the most famous, he died. I got some nice shots of Tim which were among the last ever taken of him. I am going to donate one to the Kenyan High Commissioner."

Wiseman said the Kenyan trip may be the last for a while because of COVID-19. So it is a good time to focus on exhibitions.

Wiseman's ambitions include producing more books.

The Ecuador book was his first but he also wants to produce high quality African and Indian books. He likes the thought of them helping promote countries at a time when they all need it with COVID.

Wiseman's future plans include another exhibition in Brisbane where he did his first six years ago at Maud gallery. As well as exhibitions in Sydney and Wollongong.

He is also likely to go back and show his work in Tasmania where a keen interest in sport began while he was growing up in Burnie. And has continued in NSW over the last four decades.

"I represented Tasmania in surf life saving and basketball." he said.

Wiseman was actually born in Melbourne before moving to Tasmania where he later did national service in the army. It was while working for a financial company that he was moved to Sydney and then Wollongong where has has now lived for 45 years.

"I was a physical training instructor in the army," he said.

"When I got out of that I went into what they used to call National Fitness which is a bit like Sport and Recreation today. I did that for a few years before going into a Superannuation Investment business."

John Wiseman has received a number of Australian and international awards for his wildlife photography. These include:

  • Finalist in the Nature Category NSW AIPP Epson Professional Photography Awards (2019)
  • Two Silver Awards NSW AIPP Epson Professional Photography Awards (2019)
  • One Silver with Distinction AIPP Australian Professional Photography Awards (2019)
  • Two Silver with Distinction NSW AIPP Epson Professional Photography Awards (2019)
  • One Silver AIPP Australian Professional Photography Awards (2018)
  • Four Silver in the AIPP NSW Epson Professional Photo Awards (2018)
  • Silver with Distinction in the AIPP Australian Professional Photography Awards - Science, Wildlife & Wildplaces category (2017)
  • Three Silver Awards in the AIPP Australian Professional Photography Awards - Science, Wildlife & Wildplaces category (2017)
  • Three Silver in the AIPP NSW Epson Professional Photo Awards - Science, Wildlife and Wild Places category (2017)
  • Finalist in the AIPP NSW Epson Professional Photo Awards - Science, Wildlife and Wild Places category (2016)
  • One Silver Distinction in the AIPP NSW Epson Professional Photo Awards - Science, Wildlife and Wild Places category (2016)
  • Two Silver in the AIPP NSW Epson Professional Photo Awards - Science, Wildlife and Wild Places category (2016)
  • Gold Award in the 2015 National Australian Institute of Professional Photography Awards - Album category (2015)
  • Finalist in the AIPP NSW Epson Professional Photo Awards - Science, Wildlife and Wild Places category (2015)
  • One Gold in the 2015 AIPP NSW Epson Professional Photo Awards - Science, Wildlife and Wild Places category (2015)
  • Three Silver in the 2015 AIPP NSW Epson Professional Photo Awards - Science, Wildlife and Wild Places category (2015)
  • One Gold in the 2015 AIPP NSW Epson Professional Photo Awards - Travel category (2015)
  • Three Silver in the 2015 AIPP NSW Epson Professional Photo Awards - Travel category (2015)
  • Winner of the Science & Nature Category in the International Loupe Awards (2014)
  • One Gold in the 2014 International Loupe Awards - Science & Nature Category (2014)
  • Six Silver in the 2014 International Loupe Awards - Science & Nature Category (2014)
  • Three Bronze in the 2014 International Loupe Awards - Science & Nature Category (2014)
  • Three Silver in the Australian Institute for Professional Photographers Awards (2014)
  • One Silver in the NSW & ACT Australian Institute of Professional Photographers awards (2014)
  • Two Gold in the 2013 International Loupe Awards (2013)
  • One Silver in the 2013 International Loupe Awards (2013)
  • One Bronze in the 2013 International Loupe Awards (2013)
  • One Gold and two Silver awards at the NSW & ACT Australian Institute of Professional Photographers Awards (2013)
  • Three silver awards at the Australian Institute for Professional Photographers Awards (2013)
  • John was awarded the NSW & ACT Emerging Photographer of the Year for the Australian Institute for Professional Photographers (2013)
  • A gold award and two silver awards at the NSW & ACT Australian Institute of Professional Photographers awards (2013)
  • Three silver awards at the Australian Institute for Professional Photographers awards (2013)
  • Two finalists in the Macquarie photography prize for Science & Nature (2012/13)
  • Three silver awards and three bronze in the International Loupe Awards in the Science & Nature (2012)
This story John Wiseman's transition from world of finance to a globally recognised photographer first appeared on Illawarra Mercury.