My name is Tom Palmer and I work in the communications field. As a photographer, designer and writer, my job is to provide people with meaningful information. The areas I specialize in are tourism and real estate.
Currently, I drive the length and breadth of the United States as a freelance location photographer, taking digital pictures of real estate, architecture, travel destinations and scenery. In general, my photographs are used directly by paying clients, sold as stock photography or turned into fine art images. Living a relatively mobile lifestyle, I am free to go on distant assignments whenever the need arises, and stay on the road as long as required.
During a large portion of my career, I worked as an advertising agency Art Director. As such, my duties were focused on the development of advertising concepts and their execution. In bringing those ideas to life, it was my responsibility to guide numerous professional photographers and commercial artists as they practiced their crafts.
During the course of my agency career, I dealt almost exclusively with static images. From beginning moments, the creation of printed materials (magazine ads, brochures, posters, direct mail and packaging) was a primary occupation. Eventually, when personal computers arrived, interactivity (multimedia and websites) became a facet of my regular assignments.
From the early 1980's, I have been using computers to produce advertising graphics. Initially, I did illustrations using a mainframe with a "light-pen" terminal. About that time I also purchased a small Apple IIc personal computer. A short while later, the agency I was working for acquired Macintoshs for its entire staff. In the years since, I have been party to a never-ceasing string of hardware and software improvements.
In the process of moving from a drawing table to a computer screen, I was trained to use programs revolving around vector graphics and desktop publishing. Once Adobe Photoshop appeared on the scene, everything changed. Being perfect for the generation of art and manipulation of images, it rapidly revealed its worth. To this day, Photoshop dominates my computer time and makes work possible.
Personal computers gave me the ability to publish travel information. While in Chicago, I produced a pocket-sized guide for visiting friends who wanted explore the city. When the Internet immerged, I converted my multi-page booklet into a website, which subsequently achieved a degree of popularity. Its success spawned the creation of other city guides, leading up to the website you are viewing now (FantasticPlaces.com).
Regarding my own travel bug, I started riding Amtrak in the late 1980's and made numerous circuits between Chicago and both coasts. Beginning in 1992, I stopped work for nearly 18 months to criss-cross the United States in my Toyota minivan. During the two years I owned the vehicle, I covered more than 180,000 miles. Needless to say, I saw a lot of sights and took a lot of pictures.
I have always been interested in cameras and photography. As an infant, my parents constantly had professional portraits taken of me. In grade school, they gave me a small plastic Kodak camera, which I used to photograph scenes of model airplanes and toys. Next came the Polaroid "Swinger" phase where I captured black and white images of all my Jr. High friends. For a brief time I played with the family's 8mm movie camera.
In High School, my art instructor introduced me to basic darkroom processes. The following year, I became the yearbook photographer. At Junior College, I attended several photography courses and continued to contribute images to the school yearbook. At the end of that period, I decided to become a professional photographer. Off to the University I went. Strangely, it was here that I became side-tracked.
I wanted to become a traditional studio photographer, but the University only offered a degree in photojournalism. My best compromise seemed to be to learn design, which would let me work with studio photographers on a regular basis. Completing my BFA, I graduated and entered the advertising industry. The rest is history.
I must say, though, that I did continue to take personal pictures throughout my advertising career. As you might guess, I passed though various slide, polaroid, print film and videotape phases. Today, I'm into digital stills.