It all started back in 2005, I was a Police Officer at the time, patrolling the streets of Canvey Island in England. The job was never right for me, and didn’t suit my personality at all. It took me a lot of time to pluck up the courage to leave that career, but I did. By 2008 I had quit and packed my bags for a long trip around Asia, camera in hand. Two and a half years later I returned home a changed man (excuse the cliché, but it is true). I had not only found a love for travel, but also a huge passion for photography. I knew it was what I wanted to do with my life.
I spent countless hours learning, reading, practising and honing my skills. People always ask me ‘How do I do what you do?’. I think people want an easy way in, but there isn’t one. I started off mainly shooting weddings and portraits. Landscape and adventure photography was always a passion I had on the side, I never thought I could earn any money from it. But my advice is always the same, it’s going to take a lot of time and a lot of hard work. You need to constantly practise, watch tutorials and read blogs. I spent a lot of time trying to emulate photographs I loved, so I could learn the techniques that go into making them.
Then Instagram came along. I had no idea how big it would become. I posted my landscape work on there, and slowly but surely, my page started to grow. Once I reached the 10,000 mark, I started to get people notice and contact me. Several years down the line and I have worked for countless tourist boards and brands doing what I love.
I think what I love about landscape photography is that it’s all about patience. You can’t force a good sunset, you get to sit outside in nature, in the most beautiful surroundings and wait. And that makes it so much more rewarding when you get that perfect shot. It’s challenging, when I travel on these jobs I’m up hours before sunrise every day, so I can get to the location and be ready. And then I’m out until sunset and then doing night photography. It’s draining but liberating at the same time. But it’s worth every minute, and I always come home feeling invigorated. I can’t see myself ever stopping!
You can’t force a good sunset, you get to sit outside in nature, in the most beautiful surroundings and wait.
I get asked a lot what my favourite photo is. I don’t think I can ever say, as it constantly changes. I am never quite happy with my work, I always strive to improve, and to take better photos. It’s part of the reason I don’t have many of my photos on the wall at home. I will take a photo and love it for a couple of weeks, and then start to see all the ways I could have improved it! I think it’s mostly healthy though, if I wasn’t like that then I wouldn’t get better.
My biggest motivation is looking through other photographers work. There are so many talented people out there that I look up to. Often I just need ten minutes on Instagram to feel inspired, it’s such a great network of talent. The downside is that it can be overwhelming. It connects almost a billion users, so it’s easy for it to make you feel like you aren’t good enough when you see all this amazing work. But I just let it be the kick of motivation I need to make me work harder and improve.
Often I just need ten minutes on Instagram to feel inspired, it’s such a great network of talent
Above all, the most important thing for me is to enjoy what I do. If I stop enjoying it, I’ll find some different work and turn photography back into a hobby. But I doubt that will ever happen.
Tom is an award winning freelance photographer, writer and teacher based in London. His style incorporates epic and dramatic landscapes, showing the scale and beauty of the world.