Photographer Thomas Watkin: “I don’t really work on “projects,” or at least I don’t think of it that way. It’s one picture at a time, a process that occasionally leads to sequencing of interesting ideas”

21 jul, 2011

Main influences on photography?

I spend very little time looking at other photographers’ work. I don’t have time. I am more influenced by the work of artists prior to the arrival of photography, or who were not photographers, Brueghel, Goya, Eakins, Gainsborough, Hopper, there are many.

The special moments and the modeling life

I have never captured a perfect picture; I would be happy to let you know when I do. Sometimes days or weeks go by before I realize that I have taken a good photograph, one I want to feature in my collection. A good photograph sometimes comes with me lying in a muddy dirt road, trying hard to focus, or half-submerged in a lake, or in a driving rainstorm trying to shoot and keep my camera dry at the same time. Those moments happen when the light is right, my subject is doing the right thing, and my finger clicks the shutter.

This may not be the answer you are looking for, but I always encourage my models to have a viable back-up plan for their lives for when their modeling “careers” end. The truth today is that very few male models are able to earn a good living modeling, in fact I read recently that the odds of becoming a male “super” model in 2011 are about the same as being struck by lighting twice.

Even the most successful male models I know (and I know many) spend their time in Milan living in substandard housing, barely able to afford food or rent, waiting for the big break that never comes. So to answer your question, I am proudest of the models I’ve encouraged to continue with their college careers, not their modeling careers.

The unusual backstages´ moments

I don’t know how funny this is, but in retrospect it is sort of funny. I was shooting a guy from West Virginia on the edge of a mountain pond. I was on one side, he was on the other. After a few seconds of shooting I realized I was sinking; turned out to be quicksand, and before I knew it, I was up to my waist and still sinking. The model, Chris, ran around the pond and grabbed my arms (and my camera) before I had completely disappeared; he saved my life.

The Digital era: no efect on the quality of images

The arrival of the digital process to photography has had no effect on the quality of images being produced; only the quantity. One of the great boons of digital photography is that it has made photography accessible to more people, a good thing.

Top cool places for a shooting

1. El Mirage, southern California. Because of the cracked earth, and the wind.
2. El Matador beach, Malibu. Because of the incomparable rocks, and ocean breezes.
3. Derby, Vermont. The north silo there does it for me.
4. Hurricane Beach, Louisiana. This is the best location on the planet. And I’m the only photographer who has ever been there.
5. Ocotillo. Right on the Mexican border, east of San Diego. Beautiful rock formations and stunning desert valleys.


I’ve never bought into that saying. Most of my photographs are worth between 200 and 700 words.

The Projects

I don’t really work on “projects,” or at least I don’t think of it that way. It’s one picture at a time, a process that occasionally leads to sequencing of interesting ideas. I have most recently worked with Vince Azzopardi, Tom Reader, Adam Fletcher and Andrew Walker, all wonderful UK models. In the US my most recent models have been Troy Braaten, Hunter Clowdus, Thomas Cupples, Abercrombie’s Brian Levy, the legendary Leighton Stultz and quite a few others. Some of these models have been featured beautifully here at World of Models.

Contact info: Southwest Photography

Related Posts