Tommy Nease

Feature by Alexandra Parrish

The perception of reality is made up of strata. It begins with the individual, capable of thoughts, feelings, and more importantly, memories. All repressed data surrounding the individual resides in the subconscious, a repository of experiences. For Tommy Nease, photography is an attempt to harness his subconscious, as it fluctuates from light and dark.


Phantasm is merely a loosely knit collection of photographs. He approaches each image individually, ruminating on a concept for months on end before attempting to capture it. Nease cites celestial daydreaming and visions of the metaphysical dreamscape as inspiration for this process. Phantasm is marked by the spiritual nuance of adventure, indicative of his childhood days getting lost in the woods of South Carolina.

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Nease describes his work as a linear representation of his subconscious. He refers to each photograph as a “breadcrumb trail,” capable of indicating where his mind was at that point in time. He rarely shows features of his subjects in an attempt to humanize his shadowy thoughts. His illusion to the occult is intended to represent Jung’s collective unconscious.


Only 20 years old, Nease’s ability to manipulate film is as calculated as a disciplined photographer. Most photographs in the Phantasm series were taken in darkness, sometimes using glow in the dark paint as a light source. His technique in the dark room is a novice process, which became sophisticated over time by efficacious accidents. After developing a photograph, he will sometimes scan the image, thus producing a physicality of each photograph thanks to the information picked up in the scanner.

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After a stinted attempt at art school in Chicago, Nease has taken to the “spiritual freedom” of travel. His work continues to explore his surroundings and primitive impulses.


Tommy Nease is a young soul who spends his days traveling the states and abroad. He constantly submerges himself in new surroundings in order to gain inspiration for his photography. Nease’s work shares aesthetic sensibilities with the likes of Man Ray, Roger Ballen and Ryan McGinley. Nease’s work had been both exhibited and published throughout the United States and Europe including collaborations with: Dazed and Confused Magazine (London), Unpublished Magazine (Milan), the FOAM Museum (Amsterdam), RELIC (Brooklyn), N‐SPHERE (Romania), Tell Mum Everything is OK (Paris), among others.


Nease’s solo ventures include PNEUMA a book published by Fourteen Nineteen (London) and Other/Other (USA) with an opening release exhibition at the Happy Dog Gallery in Chicago. His first solo exhibition “EXPLOR/ATIONS” (2010) took place at the Black Sheep Gallery in Charlotte, North Carolina. He recently exhibited PHANTASM at Get This! Gallery in Atlanta, Georgia.
For more of this work, visit his website.

Alexandra Parrish lives and works in Atlanta, GA. She is involved in the Atlanta arts and music scene, but she is most proud of her pizza vixen status. Her writing has been published in Brooklyn Street Art and featured in Huffington Post.