Capturing beautiful, sweeping photographs of natural landscape is what 17-year old self-taught photographer Thomas “Tom” Hanks specializes in.
We did a short feature showcasing some of the photographs that Tom had taken just a little over a week ago, offering our readers an overview about this Winchester-based lad and his work. It’s not always that we encounter someone so young take such good landscapes, so we decided to have a chat with Tom through an e-mail interview. And here it is, without further ado: Tom himself answers our questions on everything about his craft, among a few other things!
Hello, Tom! Please tell us a bit more about yourself.
Well I’m a student at the moment, in my last year of college. So next year I shall be going to university to study History. I live on a farm and so I’m very privileged with the scenery around me! My mates and I take full advantage of this, and always will. I have only known the countryside and can’t see myself moving away from the outdoors; I’d rather commute!
We read in a feature on I Still Shoot Film that you’ve been photographing for about a year now. Can you tell us about the very first time you tried your hand at photography? Why did you decide to pursue it?
I think the very first time I tried my hand in photography was at my house. It was a really sunny day and my mum had bought herself a Nikon D60 DSLR, so I had to have a go. I ended up really enjoying it, so I continued to take more and more photographs, this time with her Pentax P30 film camera as it wasn’t expensive and also meant that she could use hers. This was the first time I seriously took some photos with the intention of them being good. But I used a camera before then because I hate being in the photograph myself! So the best way to not be in photos was to be the one willing to take them!
How would you describe your photographic style? What inspires you?
I would describe my photography style as basic, in the sense that there isn’t a huge amount of editing and that I try to capture what I see rather than what I’d like to see. I think colors inspire me, but it changes from day to day when I go out. It all really depends on what the day is like. So I suppose the environment I’m in inspires me.
Why did you choose to specialize in landscape photography?
Quite simply because I’m surrounded by nature and landscapes! I don’t really have a choice, to be honest, so I love landscapes as it’s all I’ve known. The same way that if I lived in a city I’d probably specialize in street photography. But I’m glad that I do take landscapes!
Aside from taking photos the analogue way, we know that you also take photos with your DSLR. When do you shoot film and when do you shoot digital?
I shoot digital a lot at the moment because I’ve bought myself my very own piece of photography equipment: a lovely Nikon 50mm 1.4 which I can use with my mum’s Nikon. But film still has its place, which at the moment is social, it’s just so easy to carry around and nothing is needed but the camera and lens. However, when I get a job, film will once again take up a large part of my work as I’ll be able to afford it.
Have you ever had any experience shooting with Lomography cameras? If so, kindly share your story with us!
No I haven’t, but I’d love to have a go with one!
What are the cameras that you use? What’s your favorite, if any, and why?
I use my mums Nikon D60 with her 18-55mm lens and her Pentax P30 with her 35-70mm lens. But I myself own, as I’ve said before, the Nikon 50mm 1.4 lens. My personal favorite body would be the Pentax because it’s great to handle, plus it’s film, so actually releasing the shutter is far more enjoyable! However I love my 50mm lens. It was such a great buy and I’m hoping to get a Nikon film camera so I can get the best of both!
Are there any photographers and/or artists that you look up to? Who are they and why?
Yes, many. Firstly there is Luke Gram, who’s Canadian landscapes are so awesome! There is also Kevin Sheth, who takes some of the best film photographs I’ve ever seen. And Parker Woods, because his portrait photography is so inspiring and I wish I would do the same!
What’s your favorite project or photo that you’ve taken so far? Any interesting and memorable story? Please tell us about it!
My all-time favorite photograph is one taken when my family, the German hotel owner Marcus, and I went walking in the Bavarian Alps. But it was a very long walk that took most of the day, and we were exhausted. But I looked ‘round, and the landscape with the fern trees was beautiful. So I got out the Pentax and took a photo of it, and thankfully it came out perfectly!
Your dream project?
My dream project would be me in the British Columbian wilderness for a year, with a digital and film camera, mountain bike, snowboard, and hunting and camping equipment – that would be perfect! One day I hope to go to B.C. for a year, but I don’t know when this will happen.
Aside from photography, is there anything else that you do?
Yes, mountain biking is a huge part of my life aside from photography. In fact one usually goes with the other, unless the mountain biking I’m doing puts the welfare of the camera at risk!
What has been keeping you busy these days? Any ongoing/upcoming projects that you’d like to share with us? Exhibitions you’d like to promote?
Well, university applications and essays at the moment, unfortunately! Yes, in February I’m off to Berlin, so I’m hoping to give some street photography ago. I’ve always wanted to try, but never had the opportunity. Well the only thing I have to promote really is my website and the shop that’s on there were you can buy my photos in all types of formats.
Any advice that you could give to fellow aspiring photographers?
Well I’m a very inexperienced photographer, so not really…but I would say just enjoy it and have a good time when you’re out taking photos! That’s what it’s all about!
Any last words?
Just to say thank you so much for taking an interest in my photography!
All photos in this article were provided to Lomography by Tom Hanks.
Related article: Landscape Film Photography by Tom Hanks