10 minutes with Tom Fowlks

Interviews with Photographers June 27, 2011 8:46 am

Do you remember the first picture, or the first photographer that inspired you?

The first photographer that inspired me was actually a priest at the church my parents go to.  it wasn’t so much any of his work in particular that struck me as his interest and passion in the field.  he is an avid collector of photography as well (Minor White, Imogen Cunningham, Walker Evans … the classics!)  I think I remember him lending me some books and American photo mags to look through and it just all seemed so vast and impressive. I know …. it probably sounds like it smacks of something …. well not right. But, he really is a good man! He even made it to a gallery show of mine a few years ago and I was able to share with him the influence and inspiration he had from when I was young.

If that isn’t the sort of answer you are looking for, then i would go on to say the first photographer that really bit me while being in the field was probably Albert Watson. I came into photography from a scientific background and this guy is just so technically impressive and precise as well as a bit dark and humorous. Monkey with a gun!!!

Tom Fowlks

Tom Fowlks

Tom Fowlks

 

How can an editor be most helpful when giving you an assignment?

I find that quite a few editors are intuitively very helpful when first presenting an assignment as they either verbally flesh out the images they are looking for and you can just see them in your minds eye, or they provide references that just hone you right in towards their target. So, the more they provide, the more helpful it is. I guess that sounds a bit rhetorical, but not everyone works that way. There are those that just say “do your thing”, or “do what you do”, and while this isn’t an impediment, sometimes you are left to a bit of run and gun guesswork.

So, it’s really nice when you can see the images they are looking for before you even get to the location.

 

Tom Fowlks

Tom Fowlks

Tom Fowlks

What surprises you most about being a full-time photographer?

 

Surprises?!? That there are so many surprises every damned day! Living from month to month is always a surprise.  sometimes the thing that surprises me the most is who actually gets hired for some assignments and who doesn’t …. and that isn’t only referring to myself. You can see images where you are surprised that “so & so” didn’t get the nod for it when you know they are so talented for that thing, that feel. I guess it surprises me how the game is played sometimes.

Tom Fowlks

Tom Fowlks

Tom Fowlks

 

Who is your hero?

My hero? … I don’t really believe in worshiping anyone in particular. I guess I might say anyone who juggles this career with a family (like multiple kids) is pretty heroic! That seems to me like that would take courage.


Tom Fowlks

Tom Fowlks

Tom Fowlks

 

If you could give yourself advice 10 years ago, what would it be?

If I could go back in time to ten years ago, and give myself advice in terms of the field and the work, I would tell myself (and I would hope I was listening!) to work even harder!  There should never really be a dull moment! I would probably encourage myself to follow through on more of my own ideas, see them to completion (helps when you have unlimited resources).  with that said, I feel like I’ve pretty much done it my way (to pay a nod to Sinatra), so I try not to beat myself up too much. I mean to this point I have pursued a lot of my own ideas and concepts.  but, I’d tell myself to do more! more work and more pay would make that feel a bit sweeter. So maybe I might have a chat with myself about compromising more (I’m learning something here as I answer along …)

 

Tom Fowlks

Tom Fowlks

Tom Fowlks

Tom Fowlks

 

Any words of wisdom for the up and comers?

Words of wisdom might be more valuable coming from someone with a deeper bank account than mine. I guess I would say, at the end of the day, just be sure that you are happy with what you are doing. Make images to please yourself, your soul. The rest will follow.

 

(Tom is based in California. See more of his work, here.)

6 Comments

  • Beverly

    It has take me so very long to track down this photographer! I am a published writer for a magazine and doing a front cover, 2 page article on Danielle Spencer-Fields. My deadline is just about run out and I am nervous…lol. The publisher and I saw this photo in People Magazine that we think will be a perfect cover. We would like permission from Tom Fowlks to use his photo, of course with photo credit. If I am not mistaken the story and photo was June 5, 2012. Danielle was standing next to an examination table with a dog standing on it. She was in a white lab coat, with a crutch. Thank you for your time and I am looking forward to hearing from you very soon.
    Beverly

    • Hi Beverly – you need to get in touch with Tom directly about reuse.. All his contact info is on his website. Good luck!

      • Beverly Hill Shelley

        I am sorry, I must have made a mistake when creating a topic…sorry!
        Thank you for you reply. Do you know who was on the cover of that June 5, 2012 magazine? Will that help for me to know?
        Thank you,
        Beverly

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