Thomas Rollins Photography


“He who works with his hands is a laborer.

He who works with his hands and head is a craftsman.

He who works with his hand, head and heart is an artist.”

— St. Frances of Assisi


It all started when, as a Marine in Vietnam years ago, I met one of the twentieth century’s greatest photojournalists, Larry Burrows (1926 -1971).

Larry was working for Life magazine and elected to be with the Marines, armed only with 3 cameras and a desire to tell the story of the tragic war. I was inspired by his courage and his quest. Months later, I acquired my own camera to try to tell my story of the war. Of course, my images were not great, not even good, but I survived and acquired a passion for photography. I was saddened when Burrows lost his life to the war. This site is part of my story to use photography to make a positive impact on lives. I hope you enjoy the various chapters, as I continue to add adventurers.

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After I left the service, I felt a compelling challenge to become better at this art form. I attended community colleges, took correspondence courses, read every photo magazine and finally started going to workshops in Santa Fe and Maine. There, I met wonderful photographers - Sam Abell, Eugene Richards, and Don Marr. I was so encouraged by their reception of my work, I quit my job in insurance and moved into photography full time. I have not looked back. Well maybe a glance or two!

I love life and the opportunity it gives to me to learn from others. Dorothea Lang said, “The camera is an instrument that teaches people how to see without a camera.”

My education took me into business and the maritime fields. Both have provided a wonderful knowledge base to apply in photography. I have worked on assignments across the United States and on all seven continents working for companies and organizations in the fields of maritime, steel, scrap metal, construction, travel, agriculture, wildlife and humanitarian causes. My clients have included Ameren UE, Purina Mills, Mallinckrodt, Eberle Productions, Illinois Clean Energy Foundation, INTRAV, Clipper Cruise Line, 1st Choice Holdings, Chrysler Corporation, the Veterans Administration, AON Risk Services, Alter Trading Co, Oasis International, International Harvesters, Underwriters Marine Service, MOAC, the World Bird Sanctuary, the Audubon Society, Clifftop, CID - Central Institute for the Deaf, Oasis International, Wings of Hope, Honor Flights and many veteran organizations.

Travel broadens our perspective on life. When we are given an opportunity to capture unique places, interesting people and exciting events, we must do our best. Chris Rainer said, “I really get the message that one’s life can be art and one’s photography can be used for social value. I enjoyed work in the commercial field but have retired the lens from this direction and now focus on charities, environmental, fine art and pursuit of my own self assignments. Marian, my wife of many years, has been a great partner in the photographic journey. She helped in all aspects of capturing the images, the daunting job of editing and post-production. Her kind criticism pushed me forward to the next camera click. We both remember the missed images: The Cowboy in the yellow slicker, the hawk with a snake and running wild horse. If we are fortunate, we will continue to chase the light, life and not dwell on the missed opportunities. I promise.

Through photography, we can make a difference! My first lesson from Sam Abell was not about F-stops or shutter speeds, but it may have been the most valuable lesson I have ever had: It is essential to this art to care about others, to tell the truth with your lens, to respect those you photograph and to share your knowledge and skills. Following this direction, my work has had an impact on many environmental, educational, children’s and religious organizations. This, in turn, has brought me great joy.

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I am forever grateful to all who have helped me to capture images of all kinds. Your gift of time, counsel, a smile, or a view into your lives is the heart of this journey. May the time you spend viewing the work be worthy of your time. If I have done it right, your eyes and heart will work in unison.

Thank you for visiting.

Tom Rollins

Let us enjoy the beauty around us today and tomorrow.

“Art teaches nothing except the significance of life.” — Henry Miller

“No longer does it matter whether photography is accorded recognition as an art; it has the larger and more important task of explaining mankind to man and each man to himself.” — Edward Steichen

Awards & Achievements

Published books by Tom Rollins: Under One Flag by Tom Rollins, Rick Randall Jr. and Amy George Rush, CID A Journey, St. Louis Seen and Unseen by Michael Kilfoy, Beak to Beak by Walter Crawford, They Call Me the Birdman by Walter Crawford, People of the Great Flood of ’93, Carmel by The Sea by Tom Rollins

Under One Flag - This book captures the story of the journey of one flag from the Memorial Display on Art Hill on 9/11/2011, into the hands of the Flag Man, Larry Eckhardt to the hands of the Reiff Family. They lost their son in Afghanistan and thus became a Gold Star Family. The impact on their lives and the town of Preston, Iowa, will forever live between the pages of this book.

Nikon Corporation - use of Venice image in 2008 Calendar - 1 of 12 selected out of 47,000 entries. Image used in international advertisement and for Corp display in New York and other major cities.

Nikon Corporation - Winner of Family section of the International Photo Contest

Maritime Reporter and Engineering News - Images selected for world traveling tour, World Yearbook image selected from an International photo contest of 17 countries. Displayed in a touring exhibit of Maritime Workers.

Newspaper work includes: St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Republic Times, The Independent and Suburban Journal.

Splendid Magazine featured article on photography of hands across the world.

Heartland Conservancy - photography featured in article on Southern Illinois wilderness area

Soar Magazine - photographs featured in article on Louis Zamperini, World War II hero.

OARS Magazine Family Adventures Photo story.

MEWS NEWS – World Bird Sanctuary provide images for the cover of the magazine and wrote articles for over 30 years.

Photos and Articles have appeared in the following periodicals in: Outdoor Illinois by the Illinois Dept of Natural Resources, Cover Images and wildlife and birds images for Mews News World Bird Sanctuary, Cover and document photos for the Annual Report, Southwestern Illinois Resource and Conservation & Development. Maritime images have been used in advertisements and by the Waterway Journal for the Inland River Guide.

Riverbank Reflections - Won top Silver award for documentary multi-media presentation by Multi Image International

Let Your Spirit Soar - Won St. Louis Multi Image Special Merit award

Jefferson Memorial – display of images “Life on the River”

Center for Photography Gallery – One Man's Art with Polaroids

Randall Gallery - Show on Fine Art Images around the World

St. Louis Artist Guild – featured photography “Motorcycle Art”

China Six Month Fine-Art Tour of Mississippi River Work selected for display in the towns of the Yangtze River Basin.

Missouri Athletic Club – Work selected for display and sale in gallery

Audubon Illinois – Work on whooping cranes used in an awareness program throughout state of Illinois.

World Bird Sanctuary – Staff photographer for 30 years and worked to design award winning publication Mews News.

Apex Award - Photography excellence for Annual report.

Marlin Perkins Award- The joint award to Marian and Tom for their steadfast commitment to bird conservation for over 30 years.

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