Tom rejoined Nikonians after several years with a busy family and professional commitments. He remembers receiving his first camera from his parents when he was about 12 years old, a Praktica MTL50 with 50 and 135mm Pentacon lenses, and Tom reports, “I was hooked from that moment on. After reading a lot of books (and testing all kinds of Ilford, Kodak or Fuji film) I stumbled on the works of Philip Jones-Griffiths, Ernst Haas and Werner Bischof, and then when I saw the work of Steve McCurry I decided I had to buy myself a Nikon (started with a Nikon FM10 on to a F90x on to a F4)
I went on to study filmmaking (social documentaries) but always held a passion for photography because it’s such a strong medium to bring emotions to people. After my studies I moved to Spain, where I still live after over 20 years, right on the coast at the Costa Brava where the climate is much better all year through than in my home country. I live at only 5 minutes from a big Nature Reserve so that gives me plenty of opportunity to get some macro photography done when I cannot travel.”
Of his preferences for photography Tom states that he loves travel, street photography/portraits, and macro work. He shares: “I love human emotions in my photography, because I feel it tells a story directly to the viewer. I am not a good landscape photographer, I try sometimes and I can really appreciate it, but I miss the human factor. I have seen some beautiful scenery in the world, but I try to include some human detail... I guess it’s my way of ‘seeing’ the world. I love to travel and to get into a country and soak up as much as I can.” Tom finds that he loves to travel with his wife and 2 daughters enjoying their adventurous spirit. “When on a trip I get up early for some photography before they are awake and then during the day whenever the moment arises. I just recently started with macro photography just because I am fascinated with those super macro shots (2:1 and above) and love to share them with my children and let them see ‘the little world’.”
Of Nikonians, Tom writes, “I think I found out about Nikonians around the year 2005, just before my first daughter was born while looking the net about some photo travel information. I immediately saw that it was a great site with a lot of really useful information and people from all over the world sharing their thoughts and help with the Nikon gear I was using. I think at that time membership was free still, but I have no problem with paying a fee for something I know is going to help me grow in my hobby. I mean, paying a Silver Membership for a year will only cost as much as 20 coffees and you get a lot in return.”
Tom reports that when reading on the various forums at Nikonians.org he has found information that he has been looking for, stating that he gained a lot of knowledge that would have been impossible to find in books with the fast changing world of photography. He also found that “…the ‘way’ indicated in your trusted book is not the best or easiest and there are people out there doing the same work with different approaches and posting superb images.” As an example Tom refers to Philippe Clement Photophil)’s posts in the Wildlife Forum appreciating the adventures and some of the useful tips that one wouldn’t find in a handbook.
Since Tom has a particular love of travel and social photography he reports that he can travel light with respect to gear. He shares some preferences as to lenses that would be helpful for others setting out to do this kind of photography, “If I have to choose one lens it would probably be the 24-70mm because it gives me all the room necessary to do people or portrait photography and include a bit of background. That said, I love my 50mm f/1.4 and 24mm f/2.8 because it makes me move myself and look for the best angle.”
He also shares some great thoughts in working with people. “The best way I found out to do my street & people photography is to have a small talk with them, maybe showing some pictures of my family (this works good in Asia I find) and then ‘snap’ away some first shots – most people are a bit intimidated when you start shooting with a big DSLR – and when they think it’s done, then it’s the moment the make those relaxed, natural but posed shots which I like. Sometimes people so much want to be photographed they run off, dress quickly their best (or their children) to look good in the picture and it makes it difficult for me to tell them I just want to photograph them as they are. I think having respect, knowledge of cultures and being ok with a ‘no’ are the most important assets to this kind of photography.”
Of memorable moments, “When I was younger and in that ‘irresponsible age’ … I found myself at the back of a 50cc motorcycle with a complete stranger bumping up some hill in Bali to see some Moon Festival ...I slowed that down a bit now since having children and try to think twice about if it’s worth it. I had a lot of terrific moments after taking pictures people invited me to their houses and gave me some of the little food they had and wanted to know so many things. Probably my best memorable moments were doing some work through India and Sri Lanka with street kids, seeing a wild tiger in the Ranthambore National Park coming out of the bush at 2 meters’ distance from my jeep, having a male Asian elephant coming to check out our open car to see if I was any threat to the group (he gave me a push with his trunk) or having dolphins jump right next to my little wooden canoe in Africa.”
Recently Tom has been posting some of his macro images on the Wildlife and Macro forums and he plans to continue exploring the world of macro photography, “As you can read in the forums I am using a Nikon EL50mm (enlarger lens) reverse mounted on extension tubes to get a higher than 1:1 magnification. Sometimes making a lot of shots for 1 picture with the reverse lens can get frustrating (wind, very small DOF, limited visibility through the viewfinder. Soon I will buy a 105mm f/2.8 Nikkor to get some shots more easily.”
Tom encouraged and invited new members to post their images and questions putting any hesitation out of their mind. He states, “It is a great opportunity to learn from people who share your own Nikon passion. Who would be better in giving you positive advice and help you to take shots you dream of taking?”
Tom clearly reveals the heart of an adventurer, an innovator and a world citizen. He spent time in the wee hours of the night to complete this interview and we thank him for the effort and all that he has shared.
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