The following article was written by Amanda Robinson, and was originally published by Sunrise News on January 26, 2021.
Today we had the pleasure of interviewing Thomas Slatin, a former firefighter and EMT who decided to follow his passion for writing and photography. Winning multiple awards for various forms of work, he is well praised in the field of blogs and photography. We decided to catch up with him and ask about his colorful life and how he got to where he is today.
Hi Thomas! What made you decide to open a website and share your experiences from your colorful life?
I got into web development in 1996 and built my first personal website around that time too. The Internet at that time was a new and exciting thing, and you needed to know HTML to build your own website. Through my skills, I landed a job as a webmaster and Information Technology specialist at the age of 18. As the Internet progressed, I moved my work to WordPress in which I could continue to create bigger and better websites.
How did you get into photography, was there a point in your life that made you interested in it?
My father Harvey Slatin was always interested in photography, and so were his friends. I was always used to seeing cameras and camera equipment around me as a child, and my father would have these photographs developed at his friend’s house in New York. At the age of 8, my father got me a 35mm Canon AE-1. I would go on to take many photographs with this camera, including a selfie with my inflatable dinosaur collection!
Why do you choose to photograph the specific type of locations you do such as abandoned places?
As a kid, I was always obsessed with exploring abandoned places. Me and my friends would find abandoned places and explore them, as well as using them as gathering places for all our friends from grade school. As an adult, I go find abandoned places and ask for permission to photograph them. I have a few great memories of some abandoned places, The Fownes Textile Mill in Amsterdam, The Penn Bills Resort in Pennsylvania, Letchworth Village in Rockland Country, New York and The Hotel Adler Complex in Sharon Springs, New York.
It is quite a big change to go from an EMT, firefighter to a photographer, why the change? What happened that made you want to leave?
I had always dreamed of being a firefighter as a young boy, and I joined the volunteer fire department at the age of 16 as a result.
By the time I was 18, I had finished my training and became an Emergency Medical Technician in Buffalo, New York. I then finished my training as a firefighter. I worked full time as both an EMT and a firefighter and was promoted to lieutenant after 18 years. After this, I decided I wanted to follow my passion and ambition for photography and writing, and so I left and did just that.
You mentioned also being a writer. As for being a writer, who were your influences?
I was born and raised in Greenwich Village, and my dad was friends with lots of successful people. One of these people was Charles Kuralt, who was a writer, and he showed me his craft of poetry, mentoring me in the art of writing. I decided my passion was writing, and I became very good at writing non-fiction writing. Although my dad was happy, I was good at writing, he still wanted me to pursue a mainstream career such as a doctor or a lawyer.
Is your partner supportive of your career? Does she also have a career similar to yours involving travel?
I used to have a fiance who supported my career in the fire service, however as soon as I decided to leave and pursue my passion for writing and photography she became unhappy with my decision. This is one of the reasons I decided to leave the relationship. I now am in a relationship with Amelia Desertsong who is also a writer, and our relationship works out well as a result. We often will work together on projects and we travel a lot together.
What was it like to win the awards you have won?
I won an award from DreamHost.com for website of the year, and this felt great to get recognition for my hard work and determination in the pursuit of my passions. For me, it is a form of validation that recognizes the effort I have put in, and that feels great of course.
Your web design has a unique look, have you ever thought about pursuing that more seriously given the rise in technology and business?
I custom designed my blog, and I have always done this since the beginning of my career. I designed websites for a living during college, and I got a pretty good income from it at the time. Nowadays, anyone can create their own websites with the drag and drop features on several platforms which takes away from the web development field, and the money just isn’t as good as a result. I did complete several educational courses and received qualifications for computer programming, information technology and website design, and while I did have a successful career in web design, it was a short lived career.
Finally, do you have any inspirations for your photography work?
I bought my dream home last year in Middletown Springs, Vermont, and around that time I collaborated with freelance model Makayla Martinez. We did a couple of photoshoots together in Rutland and Burlington, Vermont. My favorite shoot was on my property where she was dressed in a wedding dress we had bought from the local Goodwill. I sell my photography regularly through online platforms such as Canva, EyeEm and Getty Images. My photography does primarily focus on abandoned places and adventure shoots; however, I would love to do more shoots with female models, especially within the woodland environments of Vermont and/or urban scenes and metropolitan skylines.
Amanda Robinson is a writer by passion and choice, and contributes as an Editor at Sunrise News. She mainly contributes write-ups on Business, Marketing, Technology, Entertainment and Science.