Thomas Winter grew up in Vallejo on the edge of the San Francisco Bay Area and graduated in 1973, Architecture, California State University San Luis Obispo. He started working in Sacramento, California, and after a 40-year career in architecture, construction, and historic building restoration, he retired and lives in a historic mid-century modern house he has restored in Ashland, Oregon.
I grew up with photography as an ever-present part of family life. My grandparents started photographing with a Kodak Brownie #1 at the very beginning of consumer photography. The family archive of photographic materials contains a history lesson in film and cameras. I got my first camera in college and obsessively carried it with me. In the early 1970s I studied architecture and photography at the Danish Royal Academy of Art in Copenhagen; that increased my technical knowledge of cameras and film and give me a foundation of photography as an art form. I have created photographs in various film and digital formats for over 50 years and recently I curated and scanned much of my film archive. I am pleased to find enthusiasm for my photography, appreciate the ability to digitally interact with photographers and have been selected for numerous juried exhibitions.
I was introduced to fine art photography in Denmark, and to the photographers who pioneered the art form. They have been my greatest influence, and I followed their traditions down to the large format film and cameras I have used. I wanted to photograph in the mountains and deserts, and my familiarity with those places comes from my family’s love of the outdoors, of roaming the backroads and highways of the western states.
Graphic arts are part of architecture that focuses on design, drawing, and rendering, but I don’t remember making conscious decisions to use them to create a definitive photographic style. On retrospection I have consistently combined influences from my design background with traditional photographic subjects to create images with strong graphic design. The choice of black and white removes a connection to photographic reality. Lineal and aerial perspective, shapes, massing of elements, and gradations of tone are the essence of the forms portrayed by the subjects. The choice of large format film gives detail that overlays documentary information on the graphic design producing a multi-layered image where everything you see is totally real, except for the part that isn’t. And, I am a preservationist; photography can allow us to ponder the past and remember what inevitably changes.