Tom Fraud was brought up by bikers, has lived all around the world and had more weird jobs than anyone we’ve ever known. He’s run his own creative agency and worked with the likes of Nike, Red Bull and Sony; shot Geishas in Shinjuku and was once bitten by a monkey on the job. Some might say his lack of professional training makes him a fraud, but after chatting with this motivated entrepreneur, we’re convinced Fraud is a way of life.
How did you get into photography?
I fell into photography when I was given an old 5D from a photographer I represented called Henrik Adamsen. I remember him showing me diagrams of how aperture and shutter speed works. I still didn’t get it! I started by shooting MMA fights and had no idea how to operate a camera, which didn’t really matter as I was only there to watch the fights! I pretty much just used my camera to worm my way in. I love the environment, emotion and adrenaline of the event. My first risqué shoot was off the back end of shooting behind the scenes for Harper’s Bazaar. I kept in contact with Polina Protodyakonova, the model from that day, and when she announced she was in London, I suggested a shoot. I was so nervous. I remember every part of my body sweating. She was a dream to work with, and I adore the images we took.
What defines a great photo for you?
When I look at an image, I want to feel emotion. I want the image to force me to ask how? What happened next? What was going on at that exact moment? Each photo is a moment in time, and I want to be drawn into it. A great photo has to stir something inside of me, which I think is easy to miss these days. If a photo makes me stop and wonder, that’s a great shot for me.
What inspires you as a photographer?
Life experience, which is why I’m passionate about travel photography. You never know what’s around the corner. I’ve had some crazy experiences and ones that I would never get by just being a photographer who focussed on one subject. I am inspired by documenting real life.
What’s been your most memorable shoot?
I’ve had some incredible shoots: Private jets, superyachts, soccer stars, festivals, deserts, birds of prey, bikers, ancient temples and one time I was even bitten by a monkey. I’d have to say my most memorable has to be when I documented the silence after the Manchester bombing. It was such an unusual day, yet so powerful as the whole city came together.
What’s your favourite photo you’ve ever taken?
I’d have to say the time in Tokyo when myself, two geishas and crew got past security at the Shinjuku Gyoen National Garden. We got deep into the park and started to set up. The cherry blossom had just bloomed and the Sakura was heavy! My team had a wind-blower, hair and makeup at the ready and I started to shoot. I could hear a crowd forming behind me and when I turned, I had about ten photographers all shooting over my shoulder. It was crazy! I got one shot (below) which to me reflects everything I feel about Tokyo about its culture. I have it hanging in my hallways and still to this day, it’s my all-time favourite shot.
Tom Fraud's favourite photo he's shot
What gear do you shoot with?
I shoot with two Canon cameras. My main one is my 5D Mark III with a 24 to 70-millimetre lens. But I love to shoot on my 5D Mark I with a 50-millimetre 1.4 lens – it’s so moody!
Do you think social media hinders or helps photographers?
I have a big love/hate relationship with Instagram as I’ve been a victim of being stuck inside it. I know photographers that have never seen their work printed or on a big screen. Everything is so quick now and seen through a tiny phone screen, which I think is a big shame. Expression is dying and the real values of photography are being forgotten. The only way to get noticed is to get out into the real world and express what’s inside rather than cater to your audience on social media. I had to stop looking at Instagram as I felt it was sapping my own true creativity – comparing yourself to others is the worst thing a photographer can do.
An image from Tom Fraud's Red series
What advice would you give yourself now if you were just starting out as a photographer again?
Go in harder! Don’t waste time! Don’t compare yourself to others! Do you!
Tell us something about you that might surprise us.
I own an award-winning luxury lingerie brand with my business partner, Rosie Roff, called Lascivious. Lascivious inspires those searching for unique, fashion-forward lingerie which empowers and seduces, and it has a growing list of celebrities who wear the label. And Tom Fraud isn’t my real name.
Check out Tom Fraud’s work here.
Saatchi Art limited edition runs.
Tom Fraud posters.
Read the full interview the upcoming Penthouse issue.