Wildland Art

Tom Andrews

My work springs from lifelong interests in fine art photography and the ecology of natural environments. I have been photographing for over 30 years and have been inspired by the work of Edward Weston, Paul Strand, Minor White, Paul Caponigro, and Robert Glenn Ketchum to name a few. In earlier years, I was also deeply moved by many Abstract Expressionist paintings. More recently I have become very interested in ancient Chinese and Japanese landscape painting, a large part of which was influenced by Taoism and Buddhism.

I began photographing with a double-lens reflex camera (6x6cm) a long time ago. My first selection of mounted black and white prints were made primarily from photographs taken during travels in Mexico. During this period I gave an illustrated lecture as a ‘visiting artist’ at the University of California at Santa Barbara. While obtaining a degree in science at UCSB, I also studied photography with professor William Rohrbach, a painter and photographer (and former student of Minor White). I worked primarily in black and white with a 4"x5" view camera throughout the 1970s. Paul Caponigro was generous enough to review a portfolio of mine and allow me to assist him for a few days in his Santa Fe darkroom. I was in two group shows in Los Angeles during this time. During the 1980s and 90s, in addition to my view camera work, I photographed in color with a 35mm camera, often on long wilderness trips while employed as a wildlife biologist/ecologist.

In 1992 I acquired my first medium-format camera (6x7cm) and have since found it to be ideal for high quality landscape photography, particularly in remote locations. My photographs have been used by the National Park Service, The Nature Conservancy, the U.S. Forest Service, and Boulder County Parks and Open Space Department.

The great majority of my work has been created in protected natural areas in the western United States, including National Parks, Forest Service and BLM Wilderness, Research Natural Areas, Open Space, and other public and private protected land. With current rates of environmental degradation, the protection of natural areas takes on heightened importance.  For many years I worked as a professional ecologist trying to understand and protect public lands in the West.  And now, as a full-time artist, I think of my work, in part, as homage to these wild lands.

As a landscape photographer, I try not to search for photographs to take, but instead prefer to have photographs come to me. It is a form of meditation and requires that I open myself to the unfolding visual world. When I can do this, the images present themselves. I strive to deepen my vision and its expression through long days in the wild and a cultivation of ‘the silence of nature within’ -- to find the spirit in the rock, the living tree, the whole within the fragment.

Selected public land and protected area issues will eventually be highlighted and linked on this website. The relationship between thousand year old Chinese landscape painting and poetry, fine art photography, and environmental philosophy may also be explored in future essays and links (see quote).

From June 5 - July 31, 2009, I participated in a group photography exhibit at Mercury Framing in Boulder, Colorado: "Seasoned Visions" which included the following photographers: Tom Andrews, Jim Atherton, Chris Brown, William Napier, David Silver, Richard Van Pelt, and John Ward. These good friends and fine photographers continue to be an inspiration to me.