Doctor’s Eye for Detail Empowers Wildlife Photography

Scripps urologist circles the world with his camera

Tyler Kern, MD, a urologist at Scripps Clinic Jefferson in Oceanside, smiles on a trip outdoors photographing wildlife. SD Health Magazine

Tyler Kern, MD, Urologist, Scripps Clinic

Scripps urologist circles the world with his camera

When he’s not busy with patients, Tyler Kern, MD, a urologist at Scripps Clinic Jefferson in Oceanside, may be found hanging off the back of a snowmobile taking photos of bison in Yellowstone National Park.

In Africa, he’s scouting out lions, giraffes, zebras and elephants with a telephoto lens; in the Arctic, he’s shooting icy waterfalls and the animals that call the harsh terrain home. 

“You get to go to these beautiful places, and there’s a good sense of adventure and excitement,” Dr. Kern says of his penchant for wildlife photography. “It takes me away to a whole different world where it’s just myself, the camera and being in nature surrounded by animals.” 

World traveler

Dr. Kern’s travels have taken him around the world. He’s photographed big game in Tanzania; horses, sheep, waterfalls and the Northern Lights in Iceland; the Emerald Lakes of Mount Tongariro in New Zealand; and bears and eagles in Alaska. 

“It’s a lot of choosing the right setting and the right time of the year,” Dr. Kern explains. “And also going to where the animals are going to be, where they’re congregating, when they’re less interested in you and more interested in their surroundings.” 

Dr. Kern has been traveling from a young age — he was fortunate enough to visit the wildlife-rich Galapagos Islands in his youth. He got his first “real” camera in college and incorporated photography into his travels. In no time, he was going on trips specifically for photography. 

His first photography expeditions were to Yellowstone National Park, often accompanied by outdoorsy friends. The park has an entirely different habitat in summer compared to winter, he says, and parts of it are only accessible by snowmobile in the colder months. He’s since traveled to Alaska with other hobbyists and professional photographers, picking up tips and techniques along the way. 

Future travels

Four grizzly bears in a grass field photographed by  Tyler Kern, MD, a urologist at Scripps Clinic Jefferson in Oceanside.

Future travels

He has a long list of wildlife he’d still like to add to his camera roll: polar bears in Canada or Alaska, gorillas in Rwanda and Uganda and zebras and elephants in Botswana’s Okavango Delta floodplains. 

In his years of pursuing photography, Dr. Kern is hard-pressed to name a favorite subject or locale. He’s proud of his bear photos and says the Serengeti National Park in Tanzania was particularly breathtaking. 

“There’s not one specific photo that’s my favorite,” he says. “There’s typically a photo highlight from each trip. There’s a moment when you know you got it: a great photo.” 

An eye for detail

Dr. Kern says his eye for detail benefits him in both photography and medicine, but, otherwise, the two interests have little in common. 

“There’s no structure to it; it’s completely separate from my day-to-day life and work as a doctor,” he says.

San Diego Health Magazine Winter 2023 Cover

This content appeared in San Diego Health, a publication in partnership between Scripps and San Diego Magazine that celebrates the healthy spirit of San Diego.

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