Tom Horton’s photographs gives viewers a ‘Passport’
Park City-based photographer Tom Horton, owner of Further to Fly Photography, has landed his first exhibit.
The 12-work project, titled “A Photographer’s Passport,” is currently on display at the Sprague Library, 2131 S. 1100 East, in Sugar House, through Sept. 10.
“It’s a series of photos taken around the world including China, Hong Kong, which is technically part of China, Yemen, Iran, Syria, Emirates, Indonesia, Kenya and Botswana,” Horton said during an interview with The Park Record. “They were all taken within a 10-year period, which is the life of a passport.”
The exhibit was even inspired by an expired passport.
“As I was renewing my passport, I was thumbing through the old one and looked at all the old visas and stamps,” Horton said. “I remembered the photos that I took and got nostalgic and wanted to communicate the journey to people.”
Although he had about 100 photographs that could have been in the exhibit, Horton selected the 12 photographs for a few reasons.
“First of all, I printed the photos really large, because my objective is to get them up on people’s walls so they can engage them,” he said. “Imagine spending three minutes looking at one photograph, and the only way that can happen is if it’s immense and on the wall, so people have to turn their heads and move their eyes to look at it and find those hidden corners.”
The second reason for selecting only 12 photos for the exhibit was determined by the display space.
“The library isn’t that big to begin with,” Horton said with a laugh.
The final reason was the nature of the exhibit.
“I have stories that are printed on passport paper that go with each of the photographs,” he said. “I not only wanted to show the photographs, but give people a feeling of what it takes to get such a photograph.
“I’ve lived and traveled abroad extensively, so I wanted to convey the process of getting visas, crossing borders and working through unfamiliar languages,” he said.
Horton also wanted to show how coming home with two good photographs out of 1,000 is still a rewarding experience.
“The professional in any field will never let anyone see their bad works,” he said. “That means professionals are ruthless with themselves about what skills and products they will make public. So, that’s why I feel that two out of 1,000 is a huge victory. I mean, I’ve been on trips where I take 1,000 and come back with nothing.”
There are two additional goals Horton wanted to accomplish with the exhibit.
The first is to get people interested in traveling.
“I want them to feel that if I can do this, they can, too,” he said. “The proof is on the walls.”
The second is to emphasize photography as art.
“I find a lot of people argue whether or not photography is art,” he said. “You didn’t hear that a lot before the digital days, and I think that’s what the digital revolution has done to photography.
“The fact that the argument exists shows the weakness of digital photography, which is that 99.9 percent of photographs aren’t going to live anywhere other than a screen,” he said. “A majority of the photographs taken aren’t displayed on walls for the most part, and people only spend two seconds looking at a photo before swiping to the next, which only feeds the fuel for the debate.”
Photography, to Horton, is a means of expression, which makes it art.
“Even commercial, product and journalistic photography is still means of expression, and you can put in anything emotional or intellectual into it,” he said. “I’m trying to restore that dividing line of photography being a commodity and photography being art.”
Horton has another reason why he is taking pictures — because he can.
The former news reporter and program director for KUTV Ch. 2 studied photography at the University of Utah.
“I was in the communications department and really got into photography,” he said. “While I was there, my hands developed an allergy to darkroom chemicals.”
The allergy was so bad Horton could not even go near a darkroom.
“So, I moved into the writing part of journalism and that set me up for a course that was totally different,” he said. “Years ago, I was able to get back into photography thanks to the development of digital photography.
“I jumped in at the very start of digital photography and used some really weird cameras,” he said. “That set me on the mission I have today.”
Tom Horton’s “Photographer’s Passport” exhibit will be on display at the Sprague Library, 2131 S. 1100 East, in Sugar House until Sept. 10. For more information about Tom Horton, visit http://www.futhertofly.com.
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