Tom Glassman Photography

About the Artist

TOM GLASSMAN has been shooting with a camera for hundreds of years. "I attribute my ability 'to see' to my advertising background." As a former creative director at several ad agencies he is used to routinely looking for the unusual.

Tom's first love is still black and white photography, as evidenced by many of the images routinely included in his shows and the monochromatic look of many of his color photographs.

Tom's wife, Linda, gets most of the credit for his photography career. She was the one who first encouraged him to pursue it, and over the years, allowed him to abandon her on many of their trips so he could go off and take pictures (while she went shopping). She also went without diamonds and furs so he could purchase a nice lens now and then.

Tom's work has shown in a number of galleries and exhibits in Boston, Massachusetts; Portland and Kennebunkport, Maine; Seattle and Kirkland, Washington; California; and of course, Oregon. His work is in the private collections of many professional photographers, photography instructors, designers, art directors, graphic artists, art instructors, gallery owners, plain old artist-artists (painters, sculptors, etc.), and many of the framers Tom has worked with. Additionally he teaches photography and fine art printing.

As many people comment on Tom's brilliant colors, unusual graphic patterns, and striking minimalist approach, it is worth noting that "...what you see is what was really there and what I saw when I took the photograph." He does help capture the intense colors by using a polarizer filter. But...everything was done in the camera. And although the images you see here were produced with a computer and a professional graphics printer, none of the images were manipulated in any way with any computer imaging software.

Artist Statement

First of all, I take photos because it's fun and because I enjoy it. And even if I weren't showing my work in galleries, I would still keep taking photographs.

Whenever possible, my primary goal is to try and take a photograph that doesn't look like a photograph. This might entail anything from recording unusual reflections or abstract lines and patterns to juxtaposing unusual colors or shapes to creating compositions with extreme negative space.

More specifically, what I try to do with photography is to use the camera's point of view to isolate an object that people are used to looking at everyday so they see it in a whole new way. When people look at my work, I want them to see my images as much as they see my vision.

Finally, I am what you would call a technical photographer. In other words, all my photos are carefully composed and cropped (corner to corner) in the viewfinder before I snap the picture. Everything about my images is deliberate and time-consuming. I use a tripod, bubble level, filters, mirror-lockup, cable release, self-timer, the appropriate f-stop and extremely accurate exposures to create in the camera what I envisioned in my mind.

In other words, when I release the shutter, my images are essentially complete and do not have to be labored over with any image editing software. And while many photographers enjoy all the new tools that today's digital darkroom offers, my real passion is to be spending time with the camera figuring out how to see something in a completely new and different way.

About the Photos

These are real, old fashioned, authentic, honest-to-goodness, genuine photographs. That means they were not manipulated with any computer imaging software. Everything was done in the camera.

BORING INFO FOR PHOTO-TECHIES: I also use my 30-year-old manual Nikon lenses on a Nikon D800 and Fuji S5 Pro digital camera — along with a Leica M — shoot RAW, and continue to do everything in the camera with no image manipulation.

"I still shoot film with a Nikon F4 (circa 1990), Nikon FA (circa 1983), and Nikonos V (circa 1990) underwater camera (great for rain and snow days). I scan the negative. I import the file into Photoshop. I color correct it. And I print it. That's it. No manipulation. No layers. No computer-applied filters or enhancements."

BORING DIGITAL INFO UPDATE FOR PHOTO-TECHIES: I also use my 30-year-old manual Nikon lenses on a Nikon D800 and Fuji S5 Pro digital camera – along with a Leica M – shoot RAW, and continue to do everything in the camera with no image manipulation.

AP 1/1 (Artist's Proof, 1 of 1) Giclée prints of these images may be ordered in any size.

(NOTE: Images are printed to order on acid-free archival paper with archival inks to Library of Congress archival standards.)

A fictitious transcript from a very real radio interview this past year...

Art on the Airwaves
Art in Southern Oregon
Tom Glassman, Photographer — Radio Interview
The Transcript

Q: Why did you become a photographer?

Well, the obvious reasons: the incredible wealth, the rock star status, all-night partying around the globe with celebrities, the endorsements, your picture on cereal boxes and photographer trading cards, fast cars, fast women, fast shutter speeds and high ISO, the machismo of the low-slung leather holster for the light meter or auxiliary flash unit, and the rakish off-shoulder look of a photo vest with elbow patches.

Q: What are the long-term effects of The Treaty of Utrecht on The War of the Spanish Succession?

Pretty much the same as the short-term effects: the war ended, real estate round the globe changed hands, and everyone was divided into 3 groups: democrats, republicans, and moderate republicans (the latter, now extinct).

Also France had to lift the restrictions on the number of English tourists who could appear as contestants on French TV game shows.

Q: What was the impact of early glass plate negatives on the "concept of self" in 19th century continental epiphenomenalism and perceptual phenomenology?

You have to remember that continental epiphenomenalism and perceptual phenomenology were pretty mainstream back then.  That's all anyone talked about.  People from all walks of life talked about it everywhere... all the time.  And photography was a brand new technology at the time – not even a fringe art form.  So the impact was pretty minimal – except as regards the superficial nihilism towards the reluctant existential acceptance of the nascent ringtone market as a background leitmotif for what then passed for a 19th century "audio/visual selfie." 

Q: Do you agree with the inclusion (as well as with the neutron placement among the atoms) of some of the new designer elements in the periodic table? (E.g.: Solarium, Planetarium, Aquarium, etc.)

God no! Does anyone?

Q: Do you ever use the period luminosity relationship for calculating parsec distances of remote galaxies for more immediate input such as making a late-night run to the local convenience store for a carton of egg tempera cerulean blue or a six pack of glitter so you can finish your latest photo painting?

Simple answer, "No."

It's just not practical for shorter distances. I mean, given the time it takes to get going faster than the speed of light, and then by the time you travel millions of lights years in space to just go around the corner, only 15 minutes have gone by on your watch, but over 100 years have elapsed back on earth. So if you were just going out for a quart of milk, by the time you got back home, so many years would have passed that you would have to throw out everything in your refrigerator and start over.

Q: What's your favorite lowercase letter of the alphabet?

Well, I don't want to get a lot of your radio listeners mad at me, so let's just say it may... or may not be... a vowel.

Q: Are cats overrated?

Some cats are...but to cat lovers everywhere: "No hard felines."

Q: What is your favorite photo that you've taken?

It's a shot of an empty clearing in the forest taken just moments after I saw Elvis, Big Foot, the Loch Ness monster, and Jackie Onassis abducted by a space ship shaped like a Fresca® bottle with Slovenian writing on the side. Now I know what a lot of you are thinking: How did I know the writing was Slovenian? Well, at the time, I didn't. But after consulting "An Observer's Field Guide to Spaceships and UFO's" I was able to find that particular spaceship and confirm that the lettering was, in fact, Slovenian Italic Bold Condensed.

Q: You mentioned that you belong to a photo vigilante group. Just what is it that you do?

We cruise various neighborhoods looking for people with the wrong kind of camera.

Q: Are there any outstanding personal achievements in the field of photography that you are especially proud of?

Many, but the one I am most proud of was anticipating future problems with pixels in modern digital cameras, where I was the first to caution that pixels with heavier covalently bonded positively charged electrons would sink to the bottom of the memory card and that we would have to shake the camera before each shot to evenly distribute the pixels on the memory card for a properly exposed image.

Q: There's a lot of folklore surrounding your photography career:

For example, the time you were knighted for your photography and you secretly photographed the ceremony with a hidden camera as the sword was coming down to knight you, and the queen was furious when she found out and revoked your petting privileges with her Corgis.


But you still have a camera — or is it a memory card or a roll of film – on your coat of arms? Yes to both.

Q: Any plans for the future as a photographer?

Well, like everyone else, I will be giving up the camera and from now on, doing everything from start to finish on a computer in Photoshop. I mean, you know the feeling: You're standing there in the middle of Glacier National Park looking over the north rim of the Grand Canyon, the Pacific ocean is off to your right, on the left is a field of wildflowers with a double rainbow and a herd of organic free-range unicorn running underneath it with the sunlight just coruscating off their you pick up your camera to capture all that unbridled majesty of nature...and you pause...then you put your camera back down and think to yourself, "Why bother? What's the point? I can do better in Photoshop."

Tom Glassman: Artist's Statement 2016, #1.2

I hope to use my photography to open up the galaxy for space exploration so we can colonize others planets using only photographers as settlers – no painters or sculptors...only photographers. This exclusionary requirement is vitally important, as groups such as watercolor artists can be notoriously militant in their reticence to work with anyone – especially when it comes to implementing low gravity civic infrastructure improvements in thin atmospheres.

For the new year: In an effort to boost my income, I've given up trying to market traditional photographic art and have moved to something with more commercial and aesthetic appeal for today's new customer demographic: Specifically, a downloadable hip-hop phone app of a still life of candelabra with bowl of fruit, kittens, puppies, clowns, and dogs playing strip poker beside an assault rifle draped in an American flag – all topped with chocolate, bacon, and glitter. For a small additional fee, buyers can also add some gratuitous sex and a car chase scene ... plus a semi-archival electronic signature to enhance the value of the art.

Because of my high artistic standards and unwavering adherence to strict artistic integrity, I will only occasionally (or under moderate pressure) include images of customers with their family and pets in my commissioned work.

— Tom Glassman


Tom Glassman
(206) 618-3689