tdenham (a.k.a Tom Denham) is a Palm Bay, Florida-based Linux/Solaris/Network administrator who enjoys photography as a hobby in his spare time. Tom is a top contributor to sxc.hu and recently became site certified. We chatted with Tom via e-mail about is love of photography.
How did you discover photography?
I was at a store many years ago (1973), when I noticed a display of cameras. I was curious about cameras as more of a new hi-tech gadget with all the fancy looking lenses and buttons. So I bought what I could afford at the time, a film Canon SLR Model TLB with a 50mm 1.8 lens. I was very curious about learning the technical aspects of photography, so I read about photography more than I could afford to actually practice.
When digital became popular I became really excited because I no longer had to worry about the cost of experimenting with photography. I stumbled across SXC about 10 months ago and was even more inspired because I could share my excitement with others who have the same interest in taking photos and sharing. I've never had any training other than simple tutorials I've found on the Internet and by researching questions I had and still have.
You are a Linux/Solaris/Network administrator—an open source guy. In a way, SXC embodies the same ideals as the open source software movement. What about SXC do you find most appealing?
These ideals are one of the things I find facinating about SXC. Open source and SXC seem to inspire people to use their imagination to express their ideas and to become creative in a way that is more productive than most corporate work environments that I've experienced. SXC is a wonderful and extremely supportive community that fosters pride and enhances peoples imaginations and experiences.
Many of your images depict business-related themes. These are popular stock photo concepts, but it seems they have a more personal meaning to you. Are these emotions and situations you have experienced in your day job?
Yes, most of the business-related themes are emotions and situations I've experienced. I was thinking that people might like a graphical way to communicate ideas and concepts, so I drew on some of the feelings and situations in my experience, however, a couple of these photos were ideas from other SXC members as I have pointed out in the comments section of those photos. I don't know why the other members didn't just shoot the photos themselves. What I didn't expect was these photos to be so popular!
Are you the guy in the suit in all those photos? What are some of the challenges of being your own model?
Yes...that's me:) One of the challenges is trying to visualize what the image will look like through the viewfinder without a person in the photo. Many times I use an extra tripod sort of like a stick man to model before I jump into the scene. Lighting is also a bit of a challenge because it can change once I'm in the scene and cause unexpected results.
How long does a typical shoot take?
It depends on what I have planned, but usually no longer than about 1 to 1.5 hours.
What type of lighting setup do you use?
Nothing very sophisticated. Most of the time I use my external flash (SB-600) remotely attached to an umbrella on a tripod, however, for a few of the shots I used four of those work lights that you can find at Home Depot and preset the white balance to match the light temp. I take the photos in a little corner of my garage where I have the wall painted a bright flat white.
Have you ever encountered a design that uses one of your photos?
Many times, too many to remember now. Seems I average at least a request or more everyday (except weekends). At first I tried to keep track of the requests, however, it soon became too much to keep track. The popular web site about.com very frequently sends requests. I was surprised when I did a google search on tdenham the other day to see how much of my SXC works turned up.
Here is a commercial that uses image 547289 (7MB, MPEG).
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thanks for reading!