Astrid Tontson expressed her surprise recently when a stunning photograph she posted to Twitter went viral and garnered thousands upon thousands of likes and shares from social media users worldwide.

It was just one of a series of photos she captured of Bushy Park in Richmond on recent mornings this Spring.

The Richmond and Twickenham Times (RTT) caught up with Astrid on Monday (May 18) to discuss her remarkable photographs and love of the area as a subject, among other topics.

Where are you based?

I am based in Surbiton.

How long have you been taking photos in the area?

I moved to this area in 2012 and have been taking photos everywhere between Hampton and Richmond since. We live in such a beautiful area, it would be a waste not to make the most of what we have on our doorstep.

Richmond and Twickenham Times: Image: Astrid Tontson (@Astrid_Tontson)Image: Astrid Tontson (@Astrid_Tontson)

How did you get into photography? Do you make a living this way?

I had been taking photos since I was in my teens. I got a camera for my 16th birthday but it was when I lived in Newcastle in 2011, I got more seriously into photography. I bought a used Nikon DSLR and was keen to know how to properly use it so I took a course to understand manual settings and haven't stopped taking photos since. Photography is not how I make my living, I actually work full time in an office. As well as going out in local spots, I do photography of musicians as I love music too.

Can you describe what it was like shooting the wildlife in Bushy Park this morning? (It looks like a pretty amazing experience!) How did it feel?

I absolutely love seeing a new day begin, albeit it is so early in the morning now, it is still one of my favourite things to do. I keep an eye on weather conditions and go when (trust me, I'm no meteorologist!) I believe the conditions to be favourable. It happened to be fantastic sunrise with fog and mist, which really enhances the light and atmosphere. I honestly feel like anyone could have taken this shot if they were there.

Richmond and Twickenham Times: Image: Astrid Tontson (@Astrid_Tontson)Image: Astrid Tontson (@Astrid_Tontson)

Is wildlife/landscapes your preferred medium, or are you new to the subject?

When I started doing photography in our local area in 2012, I was interviewed by what was then a Facebook page This is our town Kingston, and it became evident that scenic local photos were in demand. Suddenly I found a purpose for my photography. It has been really rewarding reading comments and I truly appreciate every single person who likes my work. Our parks are amazing, thanks to The Royal Parks who look after them - and wildlife is part of it so they feature on my photos.

Who would you say you are inspired by in photography or other aesthetic mediums?

Well....when I was growing up I always wanted to be an artist (painter). I must say my painting skills are a lot to be desired so I think I chose a camera as my tool to express my creativity. There is no "who" as such, more what I see with my eyes and would like to show to others. Surroundings inspire me, seeing a scene or a moment inspires me.

Richmond and Twickenham Times: Image: Astrid Tontson (@Astrid_Tontson)Image: Astrid Tontson (@Astrid_Tontson)

How do you differentiate your photographs when photography is so crowded and accessible these days?

I agree, we're saturated with images. In this day and age there is so much to see on social media. I have never set out to differentiate myself in any shape or form, except keeping my photography theme consistent and it has paid off with loyal followers. There are so many people with great talent, I don't consider myself part of them as when I look at something in awe (that appeals to me) - I feel like there's so much better I could do.

Do you think short video clips are becoming more and more important in photography?

It is interesting you should say it. I have certainly had an overwhelming response to my short videos on Twitter - I believe mainly because so many have been stuck indoors and they truly appreciate that I have managed to bring some nature to them through those clips. Again, I never set out to do it but suddenly there was a demand so I kept on in and I have people from all over the world who literally every day show their appreciation. It is heartwarming. Having said that, I would still post the videos even if it only helped one person in the world get through the day.

Could you estimate the cost (to you) of one of your pictures? Is that even possible?

It is not possible to measure my photography in money. Sure, it has cost me to buy the gear but I have done it over the years, saving up to be able to buy something that brings joy to me. When I go out with my camera, I am in a different world. I said once that when I go through the gates to the park it is like entering Narnia to me. There is so much beauty around us, I lose myself in views and sounds, and camera is the tool that allows me to bring all I've seen and experienced, to others who weren't there. To answer your question - there is an initial cost but rest of it is pure joy. I've wrecked myself with guilt when I've walked out the shop buying a second hand lens, thinking what have I done spending all this money - but then I take it out and my mind is blown with the possibilities and I remember again that it is important to do what we enjoy in life.

What do you think of your own work?

This is a hard question for me. I am no wordsmith, hence my bio on Twitter and Instagram say "I speak through my images". I could not evaluate my own work. It is the response of the people that is the voice of the critics and I am appreciative of that. I very much like to read what people think, beyond words like "amazing" and "wow". This allows me to understand how my photography is interpreted and that really interests me. I guess this is an invitation for anyone who reads it to help me figure out what I may think of my work. Ask me again in 5 years time!