Thomas Slatin is a master photographer who specializes in adventure photography and urban exploration. In particular, Thomas explores abandoned buildings to record them as they are and to record the history of those buildings. He is also an avid nature lover and photographer of landscapes and wildlife.
Recently, I caught up with Thomas about his experiences and achievements with major photography agencies such as Canva and Getty Images. We also talk about one of his all-time favorite abandoned building photoshoot adventures.
“It is society that teaches us to focus upon the end result, the finished product, the pinnacle of completion. Yet we are complacent in the ignorance of our failures, our struggles, our tears, and all the things that lead up to the realization of our end goals.” —Thomas Slatin
Thomas Slatin on Canva
Thomas’s portfolio on the Australian photo site Canva is extensive. His images available for use include adventure photography such as lake and nature photos and urbex photos like old houses with broken glass.
Q: Thomas, how did you come to work with Canva?
A: “I found Canva almost by accident, I think that someone had mentioned the company to me on Twitter, and I found their service useful and created an account. In December of 2014, I asked Canva if I might be considered as a contributing photographer. At the time, Canva was still a new company and had only been in existence for less than three years. After I submitted my portfolio for review, I was immediately accepted within a few days. It was in the early years that I had to submit photography in batches, via FTP or email, which was a very slow process. Thankfully, their process has changed and I can now manage my portfolio in a graphical interface.”
Q: What do you like most working with Canva?
A: “What I like most about working with Canva is building my portfolio and really seeing sales. Their interface shows me exactly what photography is selling, along with current trends. I continue to sell photography through Canva on a very regular basis, and the royalty payout is fantastic.”
Q: Any photos in particular that are your favorites that are posted on Canva? What are the stories behind them?
Old Abandoned House Interior – Photos by Canva
“This was an interesting find; I was driving through the middle of nowhere in Upstate New York, and drove by an abandoned farmstead. Seeing that absolutely nobody lived in the house and that this was literally the only house for miles, I decided to go inside for a closer look. The entire house was empty, and crumbling, though upstairs there was this old chair with a vintage suitcase sitting on top of it. I took this photograph and then drove away.”
Fire Truck On Woods – Photos by Canva
“Every now and again, I stumble across something completely unexpected and unusual. This fire truck was found parked and abandoned behind an old amusement park in Vermont. The amusement park itself was on foreclosure and eventually went to auction, and it is rumored to be restored. The current status of the old fire truck is unknown.”
Old Car in Collapsed Barn – Photos by Canva
“This one is easily one of my favorite photographs, simply based on the reaction of the people who owned the property. I photographed this old barn while standing in the middle of a public road in New York’s Capital Region. As soon as the property owners saw me with my camera, they stormed out of their house, walked to the edge of the road, and began to loudly protest me taking a picture. I took it anyway, despite their unwarranted anger. After I took my photo, I put my camera in my car and tried to explain the laws in the United States, but it was evident that these people simply did not care about the laws, so I drove away.”
Old House with Glass – Photos by Canva
“I took a trip to visit the abandoned iron mining town of Tahawus, New York and photographed the interiors of the last remaining buildings. They were empty, with the exception of this one, which had an old shoe that was left behind. The mine had a very interesting history and eventually closed for good in 1989.”
“Nothing in life just ‘happens’. Opportunity and goals can only be realized through hard work, determination, love, and blessings of patience.” —Thomas Slatin
Thomas Slatin on iStockPhoto
Thomas is a member of Getty Images and his work is available in his iStockPhoto portfolio. He has over three dozen epic images available for use ranging from beautiful landscape shots of animal life such as peacocks and toucans to New York City fire trucks.
Q: How did you come to work with iStock/Getty?
A: “Getty Images was a company that I had always dreamed of working with, ever since I was young. I spent almost a decade trying to get accepted as a contributor and submitted my portfolio for review every few years. Finally in December of 2018, after years of applying, I was accepted as a contributor to Getty Images.”
Q: What do you like most working with iStock/Getty?
A: “First of all, the money from selling my photography through Getty is great, but best of all is the bragging rights of being able to tell people that my photography is sold by Getty Images. Being associated with Getty or iStock by Getty Images, as I am is a major achievement for most photographers. I started taking pictures with an SLR film camera around the age of eight, and finally, I have earned the right to call myself not only a published writer but a master photographer.”
Q: Any photos in particular that are your favorites that are posted on iStock? What are the stories behind them?
Tree In A Heavy Fog Stock Photo – Download Image Now
“This picture of a single tree was taken at John Boyd Thacher State Park in Upstate New York. I have a fascination with foggy landscapes, especially how fog often presents with a selective view where distant objects are obscured and cannot be seen. The contrast of the tree against the fog was an amazing photograph.”
Sunset From Cadillac Mountain Stock Photo – Download Image Now
“Sunset From Cadillac Mountain was taken at 1,529′, on Mount Desert Island in Maine, right as the sun began to set. This represents one of my greatest photographs that went unnoticed and unpublished for many years as I built my photographic skill set.”
Winter Fog Over Indian Lake Stock Photo – Download Image Now
“Winter fog over Indian Lake was taken in the wintertime, and I remember that it was extremely cold, and when I took this photograph, I was wearing a sweatshirt. My shivering was so extreme that I had to balance my camera on a metal railing along the road to get this shot.”
“It’s the little things I see that most people don’t. Like the way birds fly backwards, forwards, and fall. How butterflies dance around in the air as if they’re weightless, and how flowers sway organically in the wind. Perhaps I care too much, and dive too deep.” —Thomas Slatin
Thomas Slatin Visits the Hotel Adler Spa in Upstate New York
Thomas has visited many abandoned buildings and properties over the years – with permission, of course! Exploring these buildings has become a major passion for him. Oftentimes, when he secures permission to explore these buildings, it’s because the property owner hopes that the photos will help to sell the property to someone willing to restore it.
Many times abandoned buildings will contain many objects left behind by previous generations. Sometimes, these buildings will even contain things left behind by former owners, even plates of food!
Q: For the Hotel Adler, how did you come to photograph the property? What were your favorite parts of the property? How can these photoshoots save historic buildings such as these?
A: “The Hotel Adler Spa was on my to-do list for a very long time, as I was living and working in the area and had passed by the property hundreds of times. Eventually, I was able to locate the owner of the property and send them an email requesting permission to photograph the property. Permission was granted as long as I agreed not to touch or take anything. One afternoon in 2011, I made the short drive to the Adler and, along with my dog at the time, explored the entire hotel.
My favorite part of the hotel were the upper floors of the hotel, which still had most of the furniture in the guest rooms, and most if not all of the beds were still made to accommodate guests. The property included an old bathhouse across the street, which remained mostly intact and had an onsite doctor’s office. The history of the property, along with the items which were left behind made the experience truly memorable and fascinating. The exposure that resulted from the publishing of the photographs created a lot of interest in the preservation of the property, and it has essentially been saved by an investment company that has started much-needed renovations.”
If you have any abandoned properties that you wish to be photographed, contact Thomas Slatin through his website, TomSlatin.com.
Thank you so much to Thomas Slatin for giving us his valuable insights into his photography work. Let’s wish him all the best on his adventures and urban explorations!
Photos used by permission