Tommy Nease Biography

Tommy Nease is a young soul who uses his obsession with imagery to unearth deep secrets within his subconscious. Born in 1992, one might think a modern photographer would use all of the latest gadgets and digital photography. Tommy Nease’s photographs defy modern convention, but with gorgeous results. Silver gelatin photographs, made famous by the likes of Rachel Carson and Arthur Leipzig, are Tommy Nease’s specialty. 

A human hand coming out of ocean foam. An endless sand dune (or is it snow?). Long-dead volcanoes that teach us we are at the mercy of nature and not above it. A winding river valley seen from the sky that is… devoid of life? A small spider web in between two volcanic rocks. A crescent moon in the middle of a lonely pine tree standing guard in a hilly meadow. His black-and-white photographs are simply stunning. In a world obsessed with Instagram, Tommy Nease shows us that old school is the new school. Nature is his subject, and the two-tone photos make it come to life in ways few people can.

Most of his photos are from his home state of Washington, which is both lush and desert-like, stark and beautiful, black and white. Also a firefighter, Tommy Nease’s photos of wildfires bring into focus the need for climate change reversal before his beloved home turns to cinders and ash.

Tommy Nease’s passion for photography shines through in every word he speaks. Just listen to the man speak at one of his exhibitions. He’s a kid in a candy store relating the process, look, and feel of his shots to onlookers. Tommy Nease’s photography lies in a no man’s land between the spiritual pillars of light and dark, and shares aesthetic sensibilities with the likes of Man Ray, Roger Ballen and Ryan McGinley.

Tommy Nease uses his medium to explore the relationship between the natural world and the human psyche. His work as a wildland firefighter allows him to use image-making to document fire on the landscape as a metaphor for the experience of living and working on the front lines of climate change. 

Tommy Nease’s work has been both exhibited and published throughout the United States and Europe, including collaborations with Dazed and Confused magazine (London), Unpublished magazine (Milan), the FOAM Museum (Amsterdam), RELIC (Brooklyn), and NSPHERE (Romania), among others. Tommy Nease has had two previous solo exhibitions in Atlanta, in 2012 and 2014, at Get This Gallery. Other solo ventures include “PNEUMA” a book published by Fourteen Nineteen (London) and Other/Other (USA) with an opening release exhibition at the Happy Dog Gallery in Chicago. 

Tommy Nease currently lives and works in Washington state, where he also fights forest fires for the U.S. Forestry Service. Despite his old school medium, Tommy Nease does have an Instagram account where you can see his surreal images of beautiful landscapes.