AN INTERVIEW WITH PHOTOGRAPHER, VIDEOGRAPHER AND LIFE ENTHUSIAST, TOM TERRELL

February 18, 2023

 

 

 

Tell us who you are:

  • My name is Tom Terrell, I am 37 years old, and I live in Dartmouth, Nova Scotia.

 

When and how did you start shooting?

  • I started out shooting film photography in high school, and carried around a variety of 35mm cameras for a lot of years while touring as a musician. I despised digital cameras when they arrived, but eventually I met a fellow in Scotland who sold me a water housing and a Canon 60d and I discovered how much fun, and fruitful, swimming and shooting with a digital camera could be. About 2016 I started playing around with short surf films and realized really quick that I loved the medium. At the time I was a musician by trade so being able to combine rhythm, color, imagery and composition was a dream.

 

Tell us about Dean Petty in your own words:

  • Dean and I have known each other for 12 or 13 years. We are in a way like brothers. Dean is an animal, and an anomaly. I guess we all are. He’s a sensitive flower, a brick shithouse, a dancing queen and a dreamer. We probably know too much about each other to fully answer the question of who is Dean Petty. Top secret information. But in the context of these videos - and the timeframe in which they were made, Dean was my adventure buddy and I am grateful that I had someone like him crazy enough to join me on those missions and to encourage me to film, surf and travel in some excellent and questionable conditions. Dean obviously has unique and impeccable style. He makes really hard things look easy, especially for a guy his size.

 

Give us a rundown of surfing and shooting in Nova Scotia:

  • Surfing and shooting in Nova Scotia is interesting for sure. I am often testing the boundaries of my equipment and my body, but it is always an adventure, and I think that’s what I love most about it. Like when you are a kid hanging and you find a forest or a park and even though you’re a block from home you lose your bearings and really believe that anything could happen. Searching for waves out here, especially in the winter, is kind of like that. There are still secrets out here, for one. I remember a few years ago we rolled up to one of the more perfect waves I’ve ever seen or surfed. We were in our suits, boards in hand, having walked through knee deep snow for about a mile, and there were truck sized icebergs in the lineup. The wave was 6 - 8 ft, glassy and pumping, but we couldn’t surf. One of those bergs would have killed you. So that was a funny/new feeling in surfing. The iceberg variable. And that wave is pretty much un-surfable all winter for that reason.

 

Outside of surfing what type of imagery do you enjoy creating?

  • I had to take a few years off of shooting surfing, I think because I sort of got pigeonholed (pigeonholed myself) as just a surf guy. I love shooting fashion, portraits, street style, architecture and abstract. I also love shooting film. Last few years I’ve been shooting and experimenting with medium format film. It’s been fun getting to know new types of film and cameras. I’ve been travelling a lot and shooting tons of film with a couple of old medium format cameras. I want to be able to make really big prints. I’m really into color reversal film right now. I’ve been scanning my own film and with color reversal you have color right off the bat, so when you put the negative to the light you have all these lush beautiful colors and that is super satisfying. I really enjoy delving into and documenting culture. Like I spent a bunch of time in Italy over the past couple of years and I have all these pictures of Italian people, young and old, just hanging out at the beach or in the piazza. It sounds simple but when you have a look at the photos side by side you can really see the beauty in something simple like that, just people existing in a different, beautiful way. I think as a photographer or filmer we’re all trying to shoot something new, unique, for the first time. At least I was. It drove me crazy for a while thinking it had all been done. Now I really enjoy shooting normal things the way I see them. What is unique is just my perspective on it.

 

Do you ever get the chance to travel? Any projects or clients you are stoked on right now?

  • I thought my days of traveling and shooting were slowing down to be honest, and I was Ok with it. Then about a year ago I got a gig as a DOP working a job for a company in Europe. Fast forward to now and this year I worked in Ireland, Copenhagen, London, Italy, Wyoming, and lots on the horizon. I don’t know…Nova Scotia is a really small city. Barely a city and it can feel isolated. At times it’s felt like for me there is just enough work here, but enough. The waves are amazing, I have a community, so who needs to travel? I think that living life in ‘the village’ is really cool. Getting to know your people, getting to know your place. The wisdom of staying put. Feels like that sentiment has been lost a bit. But I can’t lie, being reintroduced to traveling has been extremely invigorating for my work and for me just as a person. I guess there’s a balance to be found there. All of that work has been for big commercial clients, which is totally different and a fun new trip. Going from indie surf and art films to that world has been a roller coaster. It’s not where I want to be forever, but I am learning a ton, meeting cool people and seeing cool places and I’m riding it out for the time being.

 

What kind of camera gear is in your bag?

  • Digital: Sony A1. Sony A7siii. Sony 55 1.8, Sony 90 2.8 macro, Sony 100 - 400. Sony 16 - 35. Sigma 14 2.8. Aquatech water housings/ports. Ronin rs-3. Mavic 3. Film: Mamiya 6x6. Pentax 6x7. Leica ZX2

 

What is your take on social media?

  • I have two takes on social media: 1. I loathe it. I hate the instant gratification and I hate that it promotes the idea of needing more friends rather than enough good ones. I yearn for the days where people looked at each other out on the street, flipped records, strived to be humble, knew their neighbors and grew their food, etc.  2. I refuse to be stuck in the past. Sometimes I hide there and I always visit. But I don’t want to be the type of artist or person who is stuck back there. I want to be relevant and understand people, and I think that means striving to make the most of, and adapt to the world, the way it is. So, I use social media a little bit, and am trying to be better at it.

 

 

Desert Island: Which 2 types of boards would you bring?

  • Probably a Log (not picky), and my 7’4 Pintail Mini. I spend a lot of time on shorter boards too, but there’s nothing worse than not having enough foam.

 

Favorite wave in the world? Surfing or shooting?

  • If I told you I’d have to kill you :)

 

To check our more of Tom’s work feel free to give him a follow on Instagram or check out his website. 

  • Website www.tomterrellphoto.com
  • Instagram @tomterrellphoto

 

Make sure you stay tuned over the next few weeks as we premiere the remaining episodes of this four part series filmed and edited by Tom Terrell.


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