BRISTOL, Tenn. - They say a picture is worth a thousand words, but for photographer Benjamin Walls, they're worth at least a million words.
His award winning photographs captured from all across the globe are featured in a gallery in downtown Bristol, but it's his upcoming trip to India to capture Bengal tigers that has him excited for what the future holds. "I'll go out every day, twice a day on safari, but instead of going out on safari in Africa I'll be going through dense forest environment looking for these very elusive cats that could be anywhere," says Walls.
He'll be heading to India in April and will be gone for the entire month of May. It's a long time to be in a remote part of India, but Walls says it's necessary to make sure he captures the most ideal images from what he calls a once-in-a-lifetime experience. "I'm going to be taking my full arsenal of cameras and equipment so that I've got the versatility to capture images, from telephoto to panoramic and everything in between. But I anticipate on wearing my shutters out," adds Walls.
The reason he wants to take the trip now is because the number of tigers is declining at a rapid pace. Walls says there are only about 1,400 tigers left in the wild; that's about half of the number from ten years ago.
So he's going now and heading to a location where there aren't many other people. "I'm interested into going into one strategic location in one of the parks. There are only 15 permits a day that allow you to go to this zone, as they call it in India," he said.
So how do you capture an image of a tiger in the wild? Walls will have a guide with him and another wild animal. "I'll be taking some of these photos from the back of an SUV, which is basically like a safari vehicle with an open roof, and some from the back of an elephant," he said.
Walls says when riding in an SUV or on an elephant the tigers won't sense a threat, allowing him to capture some up-close images of these critically endangered cats.
"This is a trip that I've dreamed about ever since I was a kid and definitely since I became a professional photographer. It's such an elusive trip because it's expensive and it's dangerous. Logistically it's difficult to get equipment in the right place and the right time," adds Walls.
After his journey he hopes to have the tiger images released at an event in July.
Walls is still hoping to raise about $20,000 for his trip, so he's offering a 20% discount for images in his gallery. You can find out more information at his website www.benjaminwalls.com