What I like about Tom’s pictures is that they don’t state the obvious. He has a singular way of looking at things. Take this picture of the bathers: it is taken in a poor and angry country wrecked by the promises of capitalism — yet the people here look relaxed and sybaritic. These men are like a collection of old buffaloes sitting on the shore, talking very slowly.
Portrait of War
This was the first story Tom and I covered together and I have one of these photographs at home. It was a tough assignment; the refugee camp was a desperate place. The men are at war in Darfur leaving the women and children behind — and yet you cannot escape the fact that the bright colours make the scene look rather beautiful. Where most photographers look for victims, Tom looks for people who remain strong under pressure. The resilience of these women gives a message of hope, in spite of their desperate situation.
This is a view of a slum taken from the viceroy’s house. I love this picture. It is so calm, so thoughtful. I was there with Tom and I would never have seen what he saw. This brilliantly captures a snapshot of new India seen through the classical columns of empire.
This is a picture that requires some explanation. During the Cold War, a chain of listening posts was created to give the West a four-minute warning of impending nuclear attack. The posts are reminiscent of a time when the threat of nuclear annihilation dominated absolutely everything. Tom and I went to see this post in Kulusuk (nowhere was the Cold War colder than in Kulusuk) and it struck me as both pathetic and poignant; it’s a bit of rusting metal that stands as a memorial to hubris and bellicosity.
Greenland is amazing and very raw in places. Every house has a rack of stinking, blackened seal meat, which is fed to the huskies chained up outside in fractious, bullying teams. The dogs have so much fur that if they were brought inside, they would overheat and die. So they stay outside, covered in snow, in frozen winds that would kill a man, finding small clefts and holes to shelter against the elements. They live solely on a diet of snow and frozen seal meat; surrounding them are the chewed skins and skulls of seals.