Alumnus Tommy Brown Captures the Beauty of Central New York Through Photography


Brown captures the simplistic beauty in unusual spaces around CentralNew York.

“Everything is Nothing” was a photography panel that featured the photographs of Colgate alumnus Tommy Brown. As an art and geology double concentrator, Brown learned to incorporate both of these disciplines into his photography. His photography is undoubtedly artistic, yet it incorporates a lot of natural elements. Most of the images that were viewed were taken outside. The panel was a very casual viewing on February 25 in the Case-Geyer Library Batza Room. Thanks to the over-preparedness of Brown, viewers were able to look at actual prints of his photographs. The audience was mostly comprised of Hamilton community members. Brown began his presentation with the disclaimer that it was not a how-to session. He discouraged the audience from asking questions about what type of camera he used, or how he printed the film.

“All you have to do with art is look,” he said.

Everyone gathered around a table to look at Brown’s photographs from around Central New York. Brown was able to see the beauty in spaces that may be viewed as mundane to some. He emphasized truly looking at objects to be able to see beauty. His photos included images that he said captured America. These included photos of windows at a bar surrounded by American flags, old red barns and an ice cream stand sign. Many of his images featured the simplicity of signs, from road signs to ones at bars. Despite seeming unremarkable, the images were striking.

When asked about whether his photos had a story, Brown stated there doesn’t always need to be one.

“My son told me ‘the pictures are already there, you just have to go find them,’ so I go look,” Brown said. “There’s no story.”

He explained that to others the narrative may be the most important aspect of art, but he emphasized letting the art speak for itself. He went on talk about how this is also beneficial to the artist.

“It’s been liberating to not have to explain myself,” Brown said. Brown discussed the insignificance of his camera work. The beauty isn’t about the tools. Instead, it is about what is actually produced.

“The camera doesn’t matter,” Brown said. “When it lets you down, you adapt … Clarity isn’t all what it’s cracked up to be.”

It can be a challenging task to find the appeal in an abandoned barn or a rusted sign on the side of the road. Many areas of upstate New York lack the

beauty that we see everyday on Colgate’s campus. Brown’s

photography exhibits the beauty that can be seen around our affluent campus in not so affluent places. All it takes is a willingness to truly look.