Once a promising sportsman turned fashion photographer, Tommy Clarke is now an emerging name in fine-art aerial photography
When he was 16, Tommy Clarke broke his back in a snowboarding accident. As a keen sportsman who had just got his first call-up for the England rowing team, this was a major blow to his future plans. “I wasn’t even jumping off cliffs or doing other cool things when it happened,” he ruefully remembers. “I just fell over rather slowly.”
After recovering from his injury, he began a new role as the team’s official photographer. He loved it, and the positive feedback from his peers encouraged him to shoot more. A new career direction began to make itself clear. While studying sports science at university he did some freelancing for Country Life, and at the end of his studies he began to get into fashion shoots. “I went to New York, Sydney and Paris for various publications,” he says. “I did a lot with Vogue, and it was great fun, but unfortunately it was during the recession so budgets were very small. It was a lot of work for little money.”
In 2011, Clarke was living by Bondi Beach in Australia, and decided to try aerial photography. He was an admirer of Yann Arthus-Bertrand’s Earth from the Air images, so it was something he had wanted to try for a long time. He also saw it as a way to give his work a unique selling point. “I was doing lots of landscape photography because Bondi is such a beautiful place, but I didn’t feel my photos anything my peers couldn’t achieve,” looked into hiring tourist helicopters, that I could take the door off, so I saved
As a keen surfer, he had spent a lot the beach and in the water, so he particularly to focus on that special connection between and the sea. The waves were big and the stormy as he made his first helicopter ultimately added extra drama to the images.
These shots had an immediate impact career. He emailed one of them to Australia’s Facebook page, and in the hour after