Tom Wood (photographer)

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Thomas "Tom" Wood (born Ireland, 14 January 1951) is a street photographer, portraitist and landscape photographer[1][2] based in Britain. Wood is best known for his photographs in Liverpool and Merseyside from 1978–2001, "on the streets, in pubs and clubs, markets, workplaces, parks and football grounds" of "strangers, mixed with neighbours, family and friends."[3] His work has been published in five books, been widely shown in solo exhibitions and received awards.

The critic Sean O'Hagan has described Wood as "a pioneering colourist", "a photographer for whom there are no rules" with an "instinctive approach to photographing people up close and personal"[4] and quotes photographer Simon Roberts saying Wood's photographs "somehow combine rawness and intimacy in a way that manages to avoid the accusations of voyeurism and intrusion that often dog work of this kind."[4][5] Phill Coomes, writing for BBC News, said "wherever they were taken or made, his pictures seem always to have a trace of human existence, and at their centre they are about the lives that pass through the spaces depicted."[1] The New Yorker's photography critic, Vince Aletti, described Wood's style as "loose, instinctive and dead-on" adding "he makes Martin Parr look like a formalist".[6]

Life and work[edit]

Wood was born and brought up in County Mayo in the west of Ireland.[1] He trained as a conceptual painter at Leicester Polytechnic from 1973–76. Extensive viewing of experimental films led him to photography, in which he is self-taught.[6] He has explored a "multiplicity of formally divergent themes and quotations"[7] with an approach "much more fluid than the current conventions of post-Conceptual photography or photojournalism dictate".[8] In 1978 Wood moved to Merseyside, and in 2003 to North Wales[1] where he works as a part-time lecturer in photography at Coleg Llandrillo Cymru.[9][10]

Wood photographed mainly in Liverpool and Merseyside from 1978–2001, primarily street photography[3] "on the streets, in pubs and clubs, markets, workplaces, parks and football grounds" of "strangers, mixed with neighbours, family and friends."[3] At the same time he also worked on a long-term study of the landscape[1] in the west of Ireland, North Wales and Merseyside.[11] He has also worked with video on a daily basis since 1988, filming family life.[citation needed]

The pictures in Wood's first book and most famous series, Looking For Love (1989), show people up close and personal at the Chelsea Reach disco pub in New Brighton, Merseyside, where he photographed regularly between 1982 and 1985.[4] This was followed by All Zones Off Peak (1998), which is described in The Photobook: A History vol. 2.[12] All Zones Off Peak includes photographs from 18 years of riding the buses of Liverpool during his 1978 to 1996 'bus odyssey' – the images selected from about 100,000 negatives. People (1999), and the major retrospective book Photie Man (2005),[13] made in collaboration with Irish artist Padraig Timoney, followed. His work is included in the revised edition of Bystander: the History of Street Photography (2001).[14]

Wood's first major British show, Men and Women, was at The Photographers' Gallery in London in 2012.[6] His first full UK retrospective was at the National Media Museum in Bradford in 2013.[3] His landscape photographs were exhibited for the first time in 2014.[15]


TV Appearance[edit]



Solo exhibitions[edit]

Selected group exhibitions[edit]

  • 1994: Street Photography, Victoria & Albert Museum, London.
  • 1996: Blindspot, Paolo Baldicci Gallery, New York.
  • 1996: Inside Out, Galerie du Jour Agnes b., Paris (with Richard Billingham and Paul Seawright).
  • 1999: Internationale Fototage, Herten, Germany.
  • 2000: Les Photographies Collectionnees par agnes b, Centre National de la Photographie, Paris.
  • 2001: The Sidewalk Never Ends, Art Institute of Chicago, USA.
  • 2002: Becks Futures, ICA, London.
  • 2002: Zipp, Kassler Kunstverein, Kassel.
  • 2003: Garry Winogrand and Tom Wood, Galerie Thomas Zander, Cologne.
  • 2003: We go round and round…, COMME CA Gallery, New York.
  • 2003: Sad Beautiful Life, C/O Berlin, Germany.
  • 2003: L’amour Toujours, galerieXprssns, Hamburg.
  • 2004: Wirklich Wahr! Realitatsvesprechen von Fotographien, Ruhrlandmuseum, Essen.
  • 2004: Ruestrassen; Schrumpfende Stadte, Institute for Contemporary Art, Berlin.
  • 2004: Sammlung Kunne, Kunsthalle, Bremen, Germany.
  • 2004: Relating To Photography, Fotografie Forum International (FFi), Frankfurt.
  • 2004: Street Life, Rotonda Galerie, Cologne.
  • 2004: Independents 04, Liverpool Biennial, UK.
  • 2004: Native Land, Oriel Mostyn, Llandudno; Wales Millennium Centre, Cardiff.
  • 2005: 24 x 36, Leica Gallery, New York.
  • 2006: HyperDesign, Shanghai Biennale, China.
  • 2006: Closed Eyes, Museum for Fotokunst, Odense, Denmark.
  • 2006: Shrinking Cities, Pratt Manhattan Gallery/Van Alen Institute, New York.
  • 2006: People and Places, Museum of Modern Art, New York.
  • 2006: La Boum II, Sies+ Hoke Galerie, Dusseldof.
  • 2007: How We Are: Photographing Britain, Tate Britain, London.
  • 2007: Centre of the Creative Universe, Liverpool and the Avant-Garde, Tate Gallery Liverpool.
  • 2007: On View, Photo London, Old Billingsgate, London.
  • 2008: ParrWorld, Haus der Kunst, Munich.
  • 2008: Baby, Nederlands Fotomuseum, Rotterdam.
  • 2012: Third Floor Gallery, Cardiff, with Martin Parr.


Wood's work is held in the following public collections:

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d e Coomes, Phil (16 January 2014). "Photographer Tom Wood's landscapes". BBC News. Retrieved 9 May 2015. 
  2. ^ Everett, Lucinda (5 September 2014). "Interview: Tom Wood". The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 9 May 2015. 
  3. ^ a b c d "Tom Wood: Photographs 1973-2013". The Daily Telegraph. 26 February 2013. Retrieved 9 May 2015. 
  4. ^ a b c O'Hagan, Sean (8 May 2015). "Girls (and boys) just wanna have fun: smoke, sticky carpets and snogging in the 80s". The Guardian. Retrieved 8 May 2015. 
  5. ^ Roberts, Simon (9 March 2010). "The Work of Tom Wood". Retrieved 8 May 2015. 
  6. ^ a b c O'Hagan, Sean (12 October 2012). "Tom Wood: the people's maverick photographer". The Guardian. Retrieved 9 May 2015. 
  7. ^ Timoney, Padraig (January 1999). "Tom Wood". Frieze Magazine (44). Archived from the original on 15 June 2009. Retrieved 29 April 2009. 
  8. ^ Schwabsky, Barry (December 2000). "Tom Wood – Brief Article". Art Forum. Retrieved 29 April 2009. 
  9. ^ "Biscuit Tin Photo Archive". Oriel Mostyn. Archived from the original on 22 March 2014. Retrieved 15 March 2014. 
  10. ^ "Tom Wood". LensCulture. Retrieved 15 March 2014. 
  11. ^ a b "What Do Artists Do All Day?, Tom Wood". BBC. Retrieved 15 March 2014. 
  12. ^ Parr, Martin; Badger, Gerry (7 October 2006). The Photobook: A History – Volume 2. Phaidon Press. ISBN 978-0-7148-4433-6. 
  13. ^ Grant, Ken. "foto8 Reviews: Photie Man". Retrieved 30 April 2009. 
  14. ^ Meyerowitz, Joel; Westerbeck , Colin (16 November 1994). Bystander: A History Of Street Photography. Bulfinch. ISBN 978-0-8212-1755-9. 
  15. ^ a b "Tom Wood - Landscapes". Oriel Mostyn. Archived from the original on 24 April 2014. Retrieved 15 March 2014. 
  16. ^ Coomes, Phil (3 October 2012). "Tom Wood's men and women". BBC News. Retrieved 10 October 2012. 
  17. ^ "Tom Wood" Le château d’eau, pôle photographique de Toulouse. Accessed 24 September 2016
  18. ^ a b "Tom Wood - DPA Work". University of Chester. Retrieved 24 May 2015. 
  19. ^ "Tom Wood: Photographs 1973 - 2013". National Media Museum. 

External links[edit]