Thomas Woods – Featured IPA member
I grew up in St. Paul, Minnesota as the son of a WWII veteran of Colorado’s U.S. Army Tenth Mountain Division. As a consequence, my older brother Bob and I spent a lot of time outdoors with our father, skiing, hiking and so on, all year round. I was not a big fan of my father’s favorite pastime of “bushwhacking” on skis or hiking through the woods or mountains all day long off-trail. As a young boy, I have a vivid memory of hundreds of jackrabbits running across the highway at night across the high beams for hours as my father drove our Ford Galaxy towards Devils Tower, Wyoming. My thirst for wandering began that night.
In later years, Bob worked at Finn’s Cameras in St. Paul. Bob brought many fine and unusual cameras home. One that stands out in particular was a Zeiss Ikon Hologon camera, which I remember distinctly as being both exotic and expensive. When I was 14, Bob offered to sell me his Leica M3, 35mm Summicron lens, and 90mm Elmar lens so he could buy the latest Leicaflex. We made a deal, and over the next year I worked off my Leica debt with paper route proceeds. Then I needed a darkroom so I could develop my film and make prints. And so began my journey in photography.
I still prefer using a Leica to any other camera, but I have used (and still use) all sorts of cameras, from medium format and panoramic format cameras to tiny Minoxes. Two of my favorite non-Leica film cameras were the diminutive Minox 35 and the Rollei 35 cameras. These small cameras had excellent optics and could be taken almost anywhere. (“The best camera is the one you have with you.”) Today I wish someone would manufacture a full frame digital camera in the spirit and size of the Rollei 35.
My education from high school onwards was focused on engineering and science, and to my regret I was never formally educated in art or photography. I now realize that I would have benefited from an arts education, and of late have been trying to make up for lost time by focusing on the artistic and emotional aspects of my photography (as opposed to the technical aspects, which anyone can master).
Following university, I worked and lived in a number of different countries in South America, Africa, the Middle East, and Southeast Asia as an expatriate oil field seismologist and wireline engineer. In later years, my family and I lived in the Netherlands. Time spent overseas and traveling broadened my horizons. It also enriched and heightened my sense of the beauty and pathos of humanity, and of the wonder of our planet. I try to bring to bring these influences to my photography.
During the last few winters I have participated in a number of fat bike ultra marathon snow races in Minnesota, Manitoba and Wisconsin. Taking photos during these events is a real challenge, not least because of the extremely low temperatures. Also, camera gear must be pared to an absolute minimum if it is to be carried for a hundred miles or more on a snowy backcountry trail. For this task, I have found the Sony RX100 to be an excellent tool.
I love photography and the way it opens me up to life, and to the people and things around me. I truly appreciate having the opportunity to share my photos and experiences with you.