The light fantastic

31 May

09-26-13 TOM KI0A8919 copy

If a picture is worth a thousand words, Tom Till’s vocabulary numbers well into the millions.

His iconic images of the American Southwest have been published in National Geographic, the New York Times, Outside, Arizona Highways, and many other magazines, and he is the sole photographer for more than 30 books, including Utah: The Light Fantastic and Photographing the World: A Guide to Photographing 201 of the Most Beautiful Places on Earth. He is one of America’s most published landscape and nature photographers.

Tom grew up in northwest Iowa, but his family’s frequent trips to southern California exposed him at an early age to the wonders of the desert Southwest. He soon found himself drawn more to the rock formations in Utah than to the characters at Disneyland.

He majored in English at Iowa State, graduating with his bachelor’s degree in 1971. After a short time as a musician in the rock band “Rural” (which eventually landed him in the Iowa Rock ’n’ Roll Hall of Fame), he moved to Moab, Utah, where he taught high school.

Surrounded by the beauty of the local landscape, Tom found he “wanted to capture the things out here that I was seeing.” He turned to photography.

He found that he was good at it. In 1976, Tom committed himself to making a living in nature photography, something few photographers are able to do.

He shot first in Utah and the Southwest before branching out to the Rocky Mountains, the eastern U.S., and to more than 100 countries, mostly using a 4×5-format film camera. Many of his classic images can be found in the Tom Till Gallery on Main Street in Moab and at

But Tom’s home and his heart remain in Moab.

“Utah has a huge variety of things to shoot,” he says. “You could explore the Moab area for your entire life and only scratch the surface. The best light and best subjects in the world are here. Just being here is fantastic.”

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