The Rich Minimalism of Tom Clark
Posted on 19th June 2019 by Austin Gould

Tom Clark Dripbook

Tom Clark is a commercial and editorial photographer based in Miami's design district. His still life, portrait, food, and product photography are characterized by the ways he enriches ordinary subject matter with extraordinary qualities. As described on Tom’s website, “His minimalist aesthetic maximizes attention to the subject with a richness in depth, minus unnecessary distractions.” He uses light, color, perspective, and composition to grab the viewer’s attention for a quick but meaningful moment of time. We were recently stunned by some of his food photography and wanted to know more. Here it is in his own words:

Tom Clark Dripbook

Project Team: Tom & Lucy

“The concept for each of these images was mine. I was drawn to trends like color as the subject and minimalist story telling techniques and wanted to try my hand at it. The general idea was to make images that get attention and convey a message in as little time as possible. My wife Lucy lends a helping hand here and there and helps determine whether certain styling decisions are doing it or not.”

Tom Clark Dripbook

The Reason for the Shoot

“This series started as a personal project. It represented the sort of content I would like to create for clients, and I was having a good time with it. Fortunately, they’ve had an impact and I’ve been able to work in this aesthetic for several clients since starting the project. More recently, some images found their way in front of The Design District Magazine’s editor. They discussed ideas for a few new shots and will be running those along with some of the originals as a feature in this Summer’s issue. I’m super excited to see some select images in print.”

Tom Clark Dripbook

Location: Miami Studio & Design District

“I started producing the majority of these images in the beginning of 2018 from my home studio near Miami’s Design District, which happens to be bursting with innovative fashion, design, architecture, and dining! I was sourcing props/food from neighborhood vendors and tagging them as the work was posted.”

Tom Clark Dripbook

Drawing Inspiration

In his words, Tom’s purpose as a professional photographer is to, “create classic images that pop off the screen or page, borrowing a moment of the viewer's time (our most valuable asset) and leaving a lasting impression.”

Tom Clark Dripbook

“My favorite part is looking back and laughing at myself for how invested I become in the process. Laughing at my hands for nervously trembling while squeezing mustard on a hotdog (an action I’ve done countless times with no problem before.) Laughing at how many eggs I had to eat because they didn’t have the right look. And laughing at how proud it makes me to know an effect is real and not photoshopped (even though many people can’t tell the difference.)”

Tom Clark Dripbook

Approach

“I guess I’m approaching food photography as still life minus the traditional props and angles. For the moment I’m interested in shapes, color, shadows and negative space. As far as the subject goes, I like to be able to consume the product after the shoot. This rules out some of the more infamous styling techniques.”

Tom Clark Dripbook

“I’ve been learning a lot about food styling in this process. The styling is everything. I haven’t mastered the traditional pristine advertising food style, nor the just rolled out of bed modern blog food style. But I seem to have arrived at a style, nonetheless. I like working with the real thing (ice cream, shakes, slushies, ice and all.) I’ve spent hours figuring out how to catch a shot of a milkshake, so the cup is just the right amount of frosty and the shake is just the right amount of melty. And I spend a comically long time in stores examining things like hotdog buns and dragon fruits. If one store doesn’t have the right tomato, it’s off to the next.”

In terms of what make his images unique, Tom said, “The subject is lit with one light (unless gels are used, which requires two lights on the subject). And even though the images are simplistic, there’s a little something extra in there.”

Biggest Challenge on the Shoot

“The biggest challenge I face when shooting is my inherent need to control everything in the frame. Deep down I want to capture something ‘real’. Deeper down I can’t help but to manipulate every element of the process. What I end up with is something real that seems somehow unreal.”

Tom Clark Dripbook

If you enjoyed Tom’s story and his still life images, check out more of his work in his Dripbook Portfolios !

If you’re an art director looking to work with photographers and other artists like Tom, head here to create a Free Client Account !

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