Thomas Bachand’s photography is a consideration of the land and the competing visions that inform our interaction with the world at large. Core to the work is its accessibility to the viewer. The use of color and a documentary style allow for an open and immediate connection to the subject. By embracing a historical perspective, the photography captures a sense of honesty characteristic of the medium’s early pioneers. Whether creating a single, evocative image inviting reflection or a series conveying a sense of time and place, his exploration includes the role of storyteller. He seeks a convergence of the ordinary — extraordinary only in so much as it is revealing, offering both possibility and contemplation. His work finds inspiration in Carleton Watkins, Eugene Atget, Ansel Adams, Richard Misrach, Larry Sultan, and Mark Rothko. For many years Thomas assisted with photographers from all across America. His chief mentors were Grey Crawford and John Marriott. In addition to private collections, his photography can be found in the Bancroft Library and the California Historical Society.
Born and raised in Oakland, California, Thomas first studied photography while enrolled at California State University at Sacramento in engineering and business. Later he would transfer to the University of California at Davis and earn a degree in International Relations. After college, Thomas managed the wine cork department for one of the largest bottle distributors on the West Coast. Some years later, he embarked on a two-year solo circumnavigation of the globe, traveling by land whenever possible. From this experience came his first book, A Vagabond World, a depiction of the changing dynamic of the long-term travel experience. He has been a professional photographer for over a decade, has written on digital imaging issues for professional trade publications and lectured on photography and technology issues.
In his new monograph of contemporary landscape photography, Lake Tahoe: A Fragile Beauty (Chronicle Books 2008), Thomas draws on his 40-year personal history with Tahoe to explore the lake’s place as a nexus for the environmental issues confronting our time and its ability to speak directly to our culture’s attitude toward the land. Revealing the delicate balance we strike with the environment is a juxtaposition of sublime and altered landscapes. Photographed in the large-format tradition and accompanied by 19th Century essays by Mark Twain and vintage photography by Carleton Watkins, the work ties closely to the region’s early exploration. An introduction by preeminent Tahoe research scientist Dr. Charles Goldman and poetry by former U.S. Poet Laureate and 2008 Pulitzer Prize winner Robert Hass, places the book firmly in the present day. Supporters of this project include the Tahoe Environmental Research Center, the Oakland Museum, the Phoebe Hearst Museum, Adobe, and Hasselblad.