Interview: Thomas Seear-Budd
Wellington based photographer Thomas Seear-Budd has taken time out of his busy travel schedule to sit down with Rucksack Magazine to discuss his passion for photography.
Photography: Thomas Seear-Budd
Can you tell us more about your background and how you got into the industry?
I am a 26-year-old landscape focussed photographer born and based in Wellington, New Zealand. I consider myself lucky to have grown up here surrounded by rolling hills, green forests and the ocean never more than a 20 minute drive away. I have always appreciated nature and always been a very creative person. As a child I was constantly drawing or making things. That led me to complete a Masters of Architecture at Victoria University in Wellington in which a lot of projects centred around a building or person’s relationship with nature. My interest in architecture and photography go quite well together in daily life and in my full-time job at a prominent architecture firm in Wellington. My interest in photography began during high school and basically infiltrated my life, growing exponentially during univeristy. Now my life is split between architecture, commissioned photography work and travel. Since leaving university I’ve travelled wherever I can, from small weekend trips around NZ to large expeditions in the arctic. These trips provide content for commissioned work and my personal projects.
What influences your photography the most?
Currently my biggest influences are other photographers I have engaged with through instagram. I have been lucky enough to meet some amazingly talented people that provide daily inspiration, fuelling my desire to create. I have also been inspired by many other artists over the years. The key ones are Sally Mann, Gerhard Richter and Hiroshi Sugimoto because of their ability to make everyday moments or landscapes incredibly powerful and beautiful. Sally Mann’s compositions and constant desire to create is particularly inspiring.
What professional work have you completed?
I have worked for a number of contemporary lifestyle and architecture magazines such as Lagom Magazine (UK) and Home Magazine, (NZ). I feel very privileged that my photographic work has taken me on adventures, from road tripping in a Land Rover Defender through Australia, to shoots in Greenland and world class art museums in Japan. My focus now is to engage in more brand work while travelling even more both in NZ and abroad.
What is your favourite travel destination?
That's a tough one. I think Greenland had the largest impact on me. Being at the epicentre of climate change and witnessing the scale and beauty of the ice was something I will never forget. Very few people get the opportunity to go to Greenland and even less get to walk and camp on the vast ice sheet. Being that isolated in such a significant landscape was very humbling and I would love the opportunity to go back and see how much it’s changed since my last trip in 2014.
What is your favourite location to shoot?
Iceland hands down. The scale of the island and variety of landscapes is like no other place on earth. The way the glaciers meet the volcanoes and incredible waterfalls is spectacular. I could spend years exploring Iceland. Tongariro National Park in NZ is another favourite location, much closer to home. Generally, I create my best work in relatively minimal and raw landscapes and in terribly cold and misty conditions. I am much happier in -20 degree winters than +20 degree temperatures.
What is your favourite style of photography?
Travel and landscape work is my current favourite. I love that photography has become a driver for me to get out and explore far away places as well as this incredible country I get to call home.
What was it that attracted you to landscape photography in particular?
I think my interest in landscapes spawned from my love of travel. A few key locations such as the Greenland ice sheet, the NZ forests, and deserts and waterfalls in Iceland really cemented my love for the outdoors. Being immersed in these locations I enjoyed their power, especially when the mist, rain, wind or snow rolls in. Whenever I am in these locations I feel so much more alive than when I am walking around a busy city.
Which images would you say have been the most significant for you in your career so far?
That’s a tricky one. The images that do really well on instagram are often not my favourites. I think the work I have shot recently in Japan and NZ has given me the most attention. I think people are looking at NZ a lot more. I have noticed a lot more prominent instagramers coming here and I’m excited to be part of NZ’s rapidly growing travel destination.
What items are in your must have kit?
5D Mark III, Canon 24-70 F2.8 lens, and my drone. For a while I shot everything on a medium format Hasselblad film camera but I have got back into digital as its more practical and efficient. I think shooting film for an extended period of time made me a much better photographer as I became much more aware of my compositions.
How would you say social media contributes to your work?
Getting heavily into Instagram has honestly been one of the best things I’ve ever done. Not only has it allowed me to share my work with thousands of people and connect with brands but it’s also enabled me to meet some amazing people. There are a few NZ instagramers I’ve been collaborating with and I am excited about travelling around with them in the near future.
Where would you like to travel to in the future?
Going back to Iceland is on my list for 2017. I also really want to go to the Faroe Islands.