Thursday, December 4

Unexpected Guests: Tom Hood.

Today's visit is with a really talented bay area local, San Francisco-based lifestyle photographer Tom Hood. He's actually a transplant (aren't we all?), originally from Upstate New York, and his commercial photography work for ad agencies, design firms and a diverse group of other clients, takes him all over the world. A graduate of Penn State, Tom first found his love of photography shooting for the college campus newspaper, the Daily Collegian, and later went on to get his BFA in photography from the Rochester Institute of Technology. A lover of travel, good food and good cooking, Tom lives in the funky, creative Dogpatch neighborhood of San Francisco with his girlfriend Marcia Gregory, a freelance creative director, and their two recently adopted Cocker Spaniels Mandy and Mika. For more of Tom's beautiful work check out his website. Thanks Tom!

What is your idea of a perfect day in San Francisco?
Clear and sunny, light makes such a difference in this town, it gives more dimension to the pictures I make. Up early with a coffee at home, out the door with the dogs and my girlfriend, Marcia to Montara Beach to get some sand between the toes. Lunch from Gaby & Liz’s Taco Truck. A blast through the woods of Tamarancho or China Camp on my mountain bike. Then back to the house to meet friends and neighbors for dinner and a couple bottles of wine on our roof deck garden under a clear warm sky. Of course, pictures will be made at all times; the camera is a like a journal to me.

What don't you leave home without?
Keys. A camera of some sort, and music. (I usually forget the *lip balm).

*Editor's note: Touché, Tom!

How would you define your style?
I grew up in a 200 year-old farmhouse in Upstate NY, so I was surrounded by colonial influences, antiques, big rooms and big furniture. Classic country tones and deep primary color palettes. However, since I’ve moved to California I’ve been drawn to modernist principles, clean lines and a minimal presence. We’ve got a small place, so things like the Noguchi coffee table serve a purpose, but don’t occupy a lot of visual space.

Photographically, I try to make images that have a narrative and feel somewhat spontaneous. I’m very interested in quiet moments, illustrating thoughts and subtle emotions. Place and light are very important to my work.

What are your favorite local shops?
Drewes Brothers Meats, the Good Life Grocery, and Arch.

What's on your wish list?
Two weeks to spare and round trip tickets for Marcia and I to go visit a dear friend living in Muscat, Oman.

What's your favorite bargain find or product?
I buy pomegranate molasses from Besan’s Market in San Bruno that is perfect as a lamb marinade with a little cumin. Oh, and don’t forget about our set of Ben Seibel Golden Burst plates and bowls. Service for 12, discovered at the Bayview Goodwill.

What is your biggest interior design nightmare?
Not enough space! In my storage space is a collection of Bauer dishes and a couple cool chairs we just don’t have room for but can’t part with, along with back tax records, wine storage, photo gear and a ton of old film and prints.

Where is your favorite place in the world to be?
Swimming in Keuka Lake, near my childhood home on a hot July night at dusk with a dog named George. Sadly, I get there very rarely, which is probably why it’s so important to me.

Who is your favorite artists? And why?
Edward Hopper is a big influence. He studied time and moments, and his work handled light so well. Look at Western Motel, 1957 or Summer Evening, 1947. Other photographers as well, Robert Frank studied a foreign country so pointedly in The Americans. Eugene Atget had beautiful, haunting visions of empty gardens and parks in turn of the century Paris.

If you could be a different nationality, which one would you choose?
I’m really drawn to the pace of life and value of family and community that you tend to find in Italian and Spanish cultures. Up early to work, a long midday break to eat, relax, more work in the afternoon until late, then a long, enjoyable meal with family and friends.

Where do you find inspiration?
Travel, finding new places and meeting new people, learning new stories. I get inspired by new landscapes and the people within them.

Who do you admire and why?
You know, at this time, its hard not to admire Barack Obama. He was under a microscope for two years and was unflappable, always on. He ran a campaign that was essentially based on “community organizing” which his opponents panned, and he orchestrated so much of the public to do his campaigning. He organized the country to get out the vote, right now he’s got a lot of power and a tremendous base, primarily because people are so willing to get out and work for him.

What's the last great book you read?
Grinding it Out: The Making of McDonalds, by Ray Kroc. Right now I’m reading Ghost Rider, by Neil Peart (the drummer and lyricist for Rush, don’t laugh) who went on a 55,000 mile, 14-month motorcycle ride by himself through North and South America, along the “Healing Road”. The trip was spurred by losing his only daughter in a car accident and his wife to cancer within a 10-month period.

What's your favorite film?
There’re so many, but lately I’ve been on a Russell Crowe kick, he’s got such range. The Insider, LA Confidential, American Gangster are amazingly good.

If you could photograph anyone in the world, who might that be?
The next person I meet. Everyone has a story…

Who would you like to sit down to drinks with?
Stephen Hawking. Would a drink in the glass inspire him to comment on the scientific nature of the goings-on inside that glass?

Do you have a guilty pleasure?
Donuts, from Eagle Donuts in the Mission.

What is your most treasured belonging?
Letters and notes from my grandmother. Later in her life we would speak by phone everyday, and those notes often touched on subjects and thoughts we spoke of.

What's souvenir did you bring back from your last trip?
A small Talavera bowl that’s perfect for olives, and an antique bird cage, both from Puebla, Mexico.

Greatest indulgence?
Flight upgrades and Basil Hayden’s.

What is your idea of living hell?
10pm, February 2008, stuck at O’Hare Airport after a job, with a delayed flight home and the flu.

What are some of your favorites websites/blogs to visit?
The Pour, Rolling Dog Ranch, The Daily Dish by Andrew Sullivan, I’ll turn on Gary V’s video blog Wine Library TV while I’m making dinner, sfgirl, of course, its always so bright and inspiring. And, don’t forget about Hoodphoto.