Once a promis­ing sports­man turned fash­ion pho­tog­ra­pher, Tommy Clarke is now an emerg­ing name in fine-art aerial pho­tog­ra­phy

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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

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