Tom Carlisle
Compass Points Photography

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Tom Carlisle's Bio

Biography - Tom spent four years teaching science in high school and twenty-two years as an environmental scientist, consultant and contractor. He began taking photographs with a 35mm camera to document the sports car races he attended in the 60's and 70's and he's been an outdoor photographer ever since.

Tom is a self taught photographer. He believes that to be a good outdoor and nature photographer you must: 

  • Know your subject. That means becoming a better naturalist, historian or "fan" of the subject.

  • Prepare your self technically with the right equipment and skills. The use of your equipment in the field needs to be second nature.

  • Prepare yourself  for the challenges of field work.

  • Have the vision and be sufficiently creative to find subjects and compose photos in the middle of a sometimes visually cluttered landscape.

  • Upgrade and maintain your skills through in-the-field self-development and in-the-classroom continuing education.

To that end, Tom maintains an extensive library of field guides, maps and lists of web-based resources that he uses to plan field activities and to document images.

He uses Nikon 35mm film and digital equipment and state-of-the-art computer-based image management tools.

He's moved beyond being a "fair weather" photographer by developing the perseverance and acquiring the equipment to get up early, stay out late, get to the subject and endure the elements.

He's developed an extensive library of nature, wildlife, fine art and documentary photography books to stimulate his creativity and vision and he's developed the patience and calmness in the field to learn to "see."

Finally, Tom's taken advantage of educational and professional opportunities to learn from other photographers and photo professionals.

Tom's goal is for every picture he takes to tell a story or evoke an emotional response in the viewer. His training as a biologist and teacher combined with his experience as an environmental scientist and photographer allows him to recognize subjects and create images that meet that goal. Sometimes the goal is met by a photograph of a detail in nature, sometimes by a well-timed photograph of a natural event and sometimes by a simple but extremely relevant documentary photograph.

In the few years that Tom has been a professional photographer, he has accumulated a stock image file of over 12,000 high-quality images. His photos have been published in National Geographic Traveler, Louisiana Conservationist, on several web sites and in several multimedia presentations. One of his images was selected in the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Centennial calendar competition to be the December photo in the 2005 National Wildlife Refuge System calendar. His photos have been used in the visitor centers and educational displays of the Fish and Wildlife Service, the National Park Service and the National Estuarine Research Reserve System.

Tom is the former Chair of the North American Nature Photography Association (NANPA) Environment Committee.

For more information about the images available in Tom's stock files, go to the Feedback/Contact page and call or send Tom an e-mail


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