tom hyde – falling up




Falling up by Tom Hyde

East Fork of the Satsop River, Washington State. July 3, 2009.

I shot film for years until I started shooting digital, and that’s mostly what I’ve done for a number of years now. Until two days ago. I dropped my Canon 5d, with its expensive L glass, all of 20 inches onto my gravel road. It landed just right, or wrong, and the mounts on both the lens and the camera broke off at the same time. The camera is … toast. I didn’t even get a conciliatory self portrait of shock and rage out of it. Actually, I may have gone through all the stages of grief. Silly really.

Now I shoot film in an old rangefinder without a working light meter and an apparent two stop shift in the shutter. I like it.

Faded box of cheap Kodak film courtesy of the Matlock Country Store (stored near the deep fat frier).

Processing and scanning courtesy of WalMart.

A good day courtesy of a bad event.

The results … well, whatever, it was a good day hunting and I never even tried to look at the back of the camera. Made some new friends. Left prints stuck on tree branches by the river bank.

They’ll find them tomorrow.

God I love summertime.

Website: Tom Hyde

23 Responses to “tom hyde – falling up”

  • Tom… you represent “freedom” 100%..
    thank u for the 5D story u shared above…
    fresh…flesh.. impact…
    loves it….

  • These are beautiful, compounded by the story.. lucky accident in a sense

  • Brother Tom – wonderful photos, and wonderful words. To share it with you: you are not alone – my d300 is stolen :). can’t even take a post mortem shot of it. And I shot 160vc in celebration in 20mm. juicy.

  • Brilliant, man! Brilliant!

  • aw! the joys of technical errors.
    you should make it a habit to leave your images hanging.

  • How awful to lose your camera like that, though you don’t seem very upset. I certainly would be given the cost of the thing that broke. I like your shots. They’d be great as very large prints.

  • Free falling
    its about vision…
    and the ability to capture
    that vision…

  • Jamie Maxtone-Graham

    Nice tale from a terrible event. It’s why I still keep the M3 in the dry box and 100 rolls of Ilford in the fridge.
    Video artist Bill Viola did a great piece in 2001 called “Five Angels for a New Millennium” and one of the videos – called “Ascending Angel” – you might enjoy seeing a still image from in the below interview with him. It’s pretty cool. Like your work.

  • very nice. good thing it is summer, more suited to making lemonade.

  • Good on ya Tom for keeping it real! Enjoy the liberation!

  • Tom,

    An expensive tool smashed… and you fall back on your resources. An accustomed way of working suddenly taken away, just like that… and a new pathway opens up. The real audience for the pictures… are the people in them. You are still dealing in images and words, and have just demonstrated once again, with considerable elegance, that you are a master of both. And that words and images, combined skillfully, add up to far more than the sum of their parts.

    I’m sorry about your trashed 5D, but I’m happy for the way you have responded. It’s a corny line, but long experience has taught me its truth: Something that really belongs to you can never be taken away.

  • Good attitude.

    I was mugged on the subway years ago and two F90x cameras were taken along with all my optical artillery, Quantum power pack and three speedlights and my cash and cards. And I was not properly insured.

    This put me out of work immediately. I moved in with my aunt in Queens cause I was now broke and wondered what the hell I’d do next. How would I get back to professional photography?

    About three weeks after that happened I received a letter accepting my onto the Photojournalism Program at ICP. Somehow I managed to get some money together to pay for two semesters and managed to secure a scholarship for half of the third.

    In terms of gear I had my battered Nikon F801 (a brilliant camera, but loud, that I still have) and 28mm 2.8 with a huge scratch on the rear element and a standard 50 1.8.

    Loosing all that precious gear and getting onto the ICP course was the best thing that ever happened to me in my career.

    With the 50 and 28 I was forced to really engage with people again. No long lensing anymore which had become my standard way of working. Typical wire service methods in those days. Tight, bright and upright with just a little fill flash.

    I hit the street with my scratched 28 and a whole new world opened up. I never looked back and it doesn’t hurt anymore. But I’m still broke.

    Those are two dynamic pictures, by the way.

  • I love the story…I really like the photos too. I would love to have a 5 foot wide print on my wall…how much? Are there more in this series?

  • “falling UP”…well, Tom, that dscribes you to a T. The rest of us fall down while you fall up into a new way of being in the world. Good on you! Actually when I first (and second and third) saw these shots I saw people flying not falling. I saw air around them not water. Somehow you even managed to shift my consciousness of the elements as well as shift my consciousness of what it means to lose something important to you. These are images that cross over the normal boundaries of seeing. I too would love to have one or both hanging on my wall. Sure hope we meet one day.


  • Enjoy your summer Tom and don’t fret about your camera.
    Remember that all the photos exist first in your imagination (and obvious talent).

    When I lost my camera long time ago, I did a Lartigue. You know, blink very quickly whenever you see a photo you’d like to have taken and take a note of it. It was “almost” the same…..

  • Nice one tom.
    Love the sense of energy in the second one.
    A valuable lesson also. SHIT HAPPENS.

  • Thank you all for the comments. The big, in your face intimidating changes everything “pro” camera will be replaced but it’s just a thing, and often a trap. Strange how I don’t really miss it that much … yet. I am having fun now with an underwater point and shoot as well. Majoli is a smart man.

    This IS the driest summer in the Northwest U.S. on record, and one of the hottest, so I intend to take full advantage. I’d write more but it’s 90 out, the inflatable donut is fully charged, I have to write a boring grant summary report, ugghh, why do I get myself into these things, oh yeah, food and mortgage and big, in your face intimidating changes everything “pro” big stick with which to poke people with mine is bigger than yours stupid gadget porn, but then … take to me to the river! Life, live, life, freedom … hell yeah.

  • Good post Tom, and good reply Photohumorist – content is King!

  • Love these photos TOM.. they remind me of being in to outer space. astronaut..or even an inner space. embryo. they’re wonderful images..

  • If your friends told you to jump off a bridge, would you? Today the answer was … yes.

    Fairly “straight” but today … is here.

  • Sweet , I like the bridge stuff more – When I’m on an assignment or in a new town I usually ask around “where’s the local waterhole?” 9 times out of 10 somethings going on down there and every one is just cool and chilled , must be a water thing , a really cool vibe you have there in these pix , making fresh water creek jumping as cool as surfing ,Dude!

  • Tom,

    Great pictures and a fantastic story! I love your sense of playfulness: cheap camera; cooked film; exposure…???; stick the prints to a tree.

    As refreshing as taking a dive in the river…

    Btw – ‘And I never even tried to look at the back of the camera’ – priceless!

  • Hey Tom

    Love the 4th of July photos on your site. These two are fun. You just gotta get back up on the horse don’t you.
    Like everyone I’ve got my share of dropped camera stories. Then there was the episode with the canoe in salt water, then trying to dry it with the microwave (not a good plan).

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