Frequently Asked Questions

A few days ago an earlier self portrait taken during the same elevator trip as this one featured on the Flickr blog. In the course of the two days during which it was on the front page of the blog, I received 100,000 hits, hundreds of new contacts and so many emails and messages that it's not possible for me to respond to each one of them individually and so, while I apologise for the impersonality of it, this caption will serve as a standard reply, which I hope everyone who contacted me finds helpful.


Firstly, to those who sent kind words, thank you and I hope you continue to enjoy my work.


As for my equipment, it is listed here in my profile page. The lens I most often use is a 50mm f/1.4 D, usually shooting at f/2 and opening it up to f/1.4 in particularly low light.


When it comes to processing, I use Adobe Lightroom, and do not use any presets, because the requirements for each photograph are different. If I am to analogise my processing with cooking, then I will not reveal my recipe. This is in part for reasons which, while obviously selfish, are I'm sure understandable. Secondly but separately, I genuinely believe it is better that you find the way yourself. I used to admire photographs I saw on Flickr and would have loved to know exactly how they had been processed, but if I had found out then perhaps I would have imitated and stopped pushing to improve my technque: instead, I continued - and continue - to experiment, and eventually found a recipe of my own, with surprises I couldn't have imagined when I set out to develop it; a recipe with which I was very happy and which I think is uncommon and distinctive.


Postprocessing is an important learning tool: in my experience, playing around with all the possibilities teaches one how to understand more deeply and how to notice more readily light and colour. Having processed hundreds of thousands of photo's on an individual basis, I can now look at an image I have taken and know what I want to do to it: I can say that the balance of blues is fine, but the red balance is off: that the shadows are too dark but that the highlights are too flat. If you just work with presets or by imitating someone else's technique without analysing and understanding what you're doing, then you will learn nothing.


To those who asked, I hope this is helpful!


Glasgow, 2011.


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  • Marc Roberts 4y

    Thanks for your post Tommy! Enjoy the flood of attention, we've always known it's been well deserved :)
  • Diego 4y

    Thanks for sharing, I like all of your portraits and I agree with the idea of not revealing the recipe ... it more fun and interesting when you do it byyouself. Have a nice day ¡
  • tovorafely 4y

    I admit that ever since I laid eyes on your photo stream I've been dying to find out about your recipe, but you're definitely right, I guess I'll have to make my own
    Thanks for your post, keep feeding us with your great work !
    Greetings from Madagascar
  • Helgi Halldórsson 4y

    This photo says everything.
    (Found from Portraits That Tell A Story)
  • jak—design 4y

  • Ok* 4y

    should dig in the world of post-processing!!
  • James Stonley 4y

    totally agree mate. I'm not the best photographer but it's important that I find my own style. Been looking at yours and feel more inspired than ever to save for that d700 and shoot more often. Thanks for sharing your photos with the world.
  • v.ince 4y

    you are great!
  • Dina Marie 3y

    Oh man, I was over anxious and asked which lens you used on a particular shot. I rarely ask that! So sorry about that. Your work is amazing!
  • Lucy (嘉莉) 2y

    hi Tommy, thanks for that post. I'm still learning how to process photos the way I like them, I've seen so many different styles of processing but I haven't found my niche yet. your post is just more encouragement for me to keep at it until I develop my own style, one I'm confident with. Great photostream. cheers!
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Taken on June 7, 2011
  • 50.0 mm f/1.4
  • ƒ/2.0
  • 50.0 mm
  • 1/10
  • 100
  • Flash (off, did not fire)
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