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Saturday, Feb 4, 2023

Photographer Spotlight: Tom Nevins ‘25.5

D: How did you get into Photography? 

T: My dad got me a small camera when I was a kid. I started out recording silly films with my brother, though eventually I figured out how to take pictures. Upgrading to a proper camera,  I took a photography class and it slowly started to become a hobby. The first time I did anything major with it, though, was at the Middlebury new filmmakers festival. I was 16, and wanted to be a photographer for the event, but they already had one hired, so I decided that I was going to do some volunteer photography work for them. The high quality lens I had used for the event didn’t have autofocus, which forced me to learn to maintain my composure and use my own knowledge to make the perfect shot. Seeing the results, I realized, “Woah, these are really good” 

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D: noticed that a lot of your work is in nature with animals. How do you get so close to them? 

T: It's a lot of working with the animals, and letting them know ‘Hey, I’m not a threat’. For shots of the birds, for example, I couldn’t come at them straight on or else they would fly away. My solution was to take my kayak and slowly paddle around them in an arc, gradually getting closer to take the shot. It takes a decent amount of patience, and even when you are patient, animals are always unpredictable and could run away or lash out. 

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D: How has the setting you grew up in affected your photography? 

T: Growing up in the town of Middlebury has definitely influenced what I choose to photograph. Here, I take a lot of closeups of animals and people and I’ve developed an appreciation for older structures like buildings or waterfalls. I’m really interested in capturing rural life and small town life, and the moment by moment snapshots of it all. It's exhilarating, too, because I often find little things that I didn’t expect, like going to photograph a building and seeing that there's a cute dog inside, or chasing down turtles that I find while going on a hike. Capturing these split seconds moments, it's a way to memorialize a moment you’ll never see again. 

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D: Is there a shot that you’re most proud of? 

T: Probably the shot of the bald eagle. I’ve always loved them since I was a kid, and I had to sort of chase it around the lake because it was very nervous around me. I got the shot of it literally seconds before it flew off into the distance and away from the lake.

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D: What are your plans moving forward? Do you have any words of advice to people interested in nature photography or just photography in general? 

T: I'm excited to do more with the Midd campus and more personal projects as well. This summer, I want to set up my own platform in town, invest in more equipment, and work with the local newspaper. My greatest piece of advice would be to not worry about adhering to some imaginary professional style. Stick with what looks good to you, and the more you stick with it you will build a better sense of what you like to photograph and improve on that.

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