Photographer Tom Putt admits he is lucky; with a dad and grandfather who were both keen photographers, he has a “visually rich history” of his time growing up. At the age of nine his father lent him his first camera “to foster my interest in photography” and Putt immediately began snapping shots of “wildlife and birds as a hobby”. He has fond recollections of his dad on the sidelines at all the annual school sports’ events, camera in hand, and he laughingly suggests that may be why his first job in the biz was as a sports shooter, a career he successfully pursued for many years.
Today however Putt’s passion is landscape photography – something he has loved since childhood. “I’ve always been passionate about shooting landscapes. My parents reminded me recently that as a kid I used to sit up in bed with a pile of landscape and wildlife books, poring over them for hours before turning the light out. “I have a mind that needs visual stimulation and for me, that was the best part of the day. It helped inspire me and dream of what I would like to achieve in my life.”
Tom says that his passion for landscapes derives from his desire to create beautiful images. “I love the idea of capturing them on film (or digitally of course) and have that as a permanent record of my life. I still enjoy looking over the landscapes I shot 10-15 years ago just as much as the new images I create now.” He admits shooting outdoors has its particular challenges, though often the biggest obstacle can be the photographer… “Putting yourself in the right location and waiting for the light to be right. I’m an impatient person – I love getting the shot straight away and moving on to the next big image – so I need to constantly remind myself to wait for the moment to be perfect – to wait for the ‘WOW!’ factor – before I fire the shutter.”
With his background in sports photography, Putt is also often called upon for advice when it comes to shooting adventure sports, from enthusiasts wanting to capture their action. “Those GoPro helmet-mounted cameras (or something similar) are all the rage at the moment – I ride into work several days a week and see the guys riding with them.” He also suggests a waterproof camera or camera case “which need not be expensive” as “perfect for throwing in the kayak to capture images from unique perspectives”. And Putt should know about unique perspectives. He spends several months of the year leading photo tours to glorious destinations such as the Flinders Ranges, Cradle Mountain and the outback of the Northern Territory.
Putt believes that there are several advantages for the enthusiast in attending a photo tour, suggesting it is a great “opportunity to learn from our leaders and fellow participants about their camera, their photography, and themselves”.
“Going to the best locations in Australia gives the participants the opportunity to photograph a location they may not have been to, we show them the best spots to go to and when, as well as teaching them all the post-production techniques they’ll need to have their images look their very best.”
Which begs the question, how to deal with extreme weather and still get a great shot? Imagine I’ve come to Cradle Mountain and woken up to 2ft of fresh snow – what do I need to do to improve my chances of getting a great shot? I ask.
“Sounds like my dream weather for our winter workshop there in August,” laughs Tom. “Firstly you’ve got to be prepared for conditions like that – suitable footwear, layers of clothing which includes thermals, polar fleece, gloves, beanie, etc. otherwise you won’t last five minutes out there. Some of the coldest weather I’ve ever experienced was standing on the shores of Dove Lake photographing into an icy stiff wind with the wind chill at minus 10-15 degrees. I had all the clothes I could possibly put on and I was still cold. It was unbearable! Other times I’ve tried to walk around Dove Lake with two foot of fresh snow only to get 50m before I was waist deep in snow and not going anywhere!”
He suggests that the most essential accessory for landscape work would be a steady tripod.
“Not only does it teach you to slow down and compose your image correctly, but it’s essential for longer exposures which is what a lot of my work demands. Exposures are typically one second or more, so a steady tripod is critical to ensure there’s no camera shake.” So, what are the essential ingredients for a great shot? According to Tom the answer is simple. “Great light, great composition, correct technique! It’s that simple! It always has been and always will be!”
See more of Tom’s work at tomputtphotographicworkshops.com
Learn about his upcoming workshops to Cradle Mountain, Flinders Ranges, and Kangaroo Island. Lamington National Park, QLD West McDonnell Ranges, NT.