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The Folks | Thomas Seear-Budd

The Blog

The daily, and somewhat random, musings from Ben. From the journeys, to the vlogs, to the behind-the-scenes-into-the-world moments.

The Folks | Thomas Seear-Budd

Ben Ashby


THE FOLKS 009 || @thomasseearbudd


1) How and when did you realize that photography was your passion? I developed a strong interest in photography while completing my degree in Architecture. Photography naturally made into into many of my projects during architecture school. I would often have to photograph urban spaces to superimpose my designs into. For my final year thesis I proposed an architectural intervention amongst a stand of burnt mountain ash tress in Australia. Photographing these beautiful 90m tall trees ravaged by fire and studying the regrowth occurring around their base became a critical part of my project and further spurred my interest in landscape based imagery. After I graduated university my growing interest in photography took me to the arctic for three months. In the north west of Greenland and central highlands of Iceland I documented the effects of climate change with a focus on the deteriorating ice sheets.


2) How has digital technology impacted your work both positively and negatively? During my travels to Iceland and Greenland in 2014, I was shooting exclusively on my 1980s Hasselblad medium format film camera at the time. It taught me a lot about composition, exposure, framing a shot and analysing a landscape when there’s no electrical technology to do that for you. It didn’t even have a battery. As I started to shoot more projects, the expense and slow process of developing and scanning film began to outweigh the benefits of this beautiful and incredibly rewarding process. Instead I took the compositional lessons and patience I had learnt with my Hasselblad and applied them when using my Canon. That way I was able to focus on the part I enjoyed most - taking the photos, and could be more experimental without worrying about the cost of film or whether the image had been exposed onto the film at all. 




3) When you think about your favorite work, what makes it stand out from the rest? I look to instil an element of wonder and aspects of the sublime in my work. These pieces are also often from tough journeys into unique landscapes so I find them really satisfying to look at. The abstract works I created of the Greenland Ice sheet stand out for me because they were incredibly tough to get. We had to travel all the way from New Zealand to Kangerlussuaq in Greenland. We then drove a few hours to the edge of the ice sheet to camp there for three days before heading onto the ice for one night. It was insanely cold and isolated once on the ice sheet. The images I created really posses the mysterious, beautiful and very powerful nature of the ice sheet. 


4) If you weren't a photographer what would you pursue? As well as being a photographer, I also work in a creative architecture practice in Wellington, New Zealand where my eye for design is a key part of my work also. If photography wasn't a part of my life I would still work in architecture but most likely supplement it with another art form such as graphic design.


5) Has any one person or one location stood out amongst the rest when you think about your past work? Shooting the Greenland ice sheet will always be a stand out experience for me. However, Mueller Hut at Mt. Cook in the South Island of New Zealand also stands out. My last hike up there could not have been more perfect. The sun was out and the air perfectly still. We had the entire hut to ourselves surrounded by cracking glaciers with a direct view of Mt. Cook.





6) What is the biggest challenge you face when shooting a new subject? Understanding what I really want to get out of the images is always a challenge. I struggle against photographing stunning landscapes for the sake of photographing them. I want my work to go beyond that. It needs to embody the experience of being in that place.


7) What message do you want people to receive when they look at your photographs? It depends on the work. The abstract works I created while in Greenland sought to reveal the dynamic, sublime and enigmatic qualities of the ice sheet, inviting the viewer to contemplate their own relationship with landscapes undergoing drastic change. My other travel orientated work seeks to inspire others to get out into these amazing landscapes. I want to hold the viewer’s attention, make them question the landscape in front of them and captivate them with the textures.




8) What gear, apps and technology do you use most to help you be successful? My camera, drone and Lightroom.


9) What essentials do you pack when traveling? My camera, a sleeping bag, thermals, and gloves. 


10) What motivates you to keep taking photographs of the world around you?  Being inspired by the work of others and seeing new locations or hikes that can take me into an environment I haven't experienced before. The feedback and collaborations I develop from fellow photographers on social media helps to fuel the fire as well.


11) What is something you wish you knew when you first started shooting? The best way to get better and be unique is to experiment. Don’t be afraid to try different shooting styles and definitely don’t be afraid to break any ‘rules’ of image making. 





12) If you could go back 10 years, what would you tell yourself? If you work hard, good things will come. Just keep working, working, working. Trying new things with intensity is the key.


13) Favourite breakfast cereal? Weet-bix.


14) Favourite coffee shop? Customs in Wellington.


15) Favourite view? The 360-degree panorama view from Mueller Hut of the mountain peaks, glaciers, and rock faces. The view from my house in Wellington is also pretty great looking over the city and harbour framed by a beautiful Copper Beech tree.





16) First photo ever taken. I can’t remember the first photo I took but it would have been of my mother or father using a basic film camera. I remember being fascinated by these disposable film cameras as young child. When my family bought a computer it came with a webcam that could be used as a small travel camera. I vividly remember taking this to the zoo with a friend to photograph the Cheetah.


17) Road trips or flights? Flights, because they get me to really hard to get places. Unless I am in a Land Rover Defender then road trip hands down. 





18) Do you prefer the heat? Or the cold? Cold for sure.


19) Where are you based? Wellington, New Zealand


20) Give us one piece of advice. As cliche as it might sound, hard work really does pay off.


Camera: Canon 5D Mark III || Dream Camera: Phase One