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The Photography of Tom Anderson


The dude pictured above is not Tom Anderson. It’s Steve Aoki, Tom’s friend. Tom took the photo though. This one was at Bellows Beach Park on Oahu.


Tom took this photo as well (in Waikiki).

You might have heard of Tom from his days as an internet entrepreneur. He’s the Tom Anderson that created the social network MySpace (which he later sold to News Corp).


If you were ever on MySpace back in the day, Tom was probably your “friend.”


Above: Koolau waterfall as seen from the H3. Kaneohe, Oahu.

But Tom is now happily retired and pursuing his passion of landscape photography. He has homes in a few different cities around the country, one of which is Honolulu. And it was here in Hawaii where I ended up meeting him.


Above: Group photo at Kalapana on Big Island. Left to right: Dallas Nagata White, Ed White, John Hook, Samantha Hook, Tom Anderson, me and Andrew (our lava hike guide).

I’ve been on a few photo adventures with Tom and some other Hawaii photographers this year. Last month we all went to Big Island. During the two-hour car ride from Kona to Hilo we had some time to kill and Tom handed me his iPad so I could check out his photos. I had only met Tom two weeks prior to the trip so I wasn’t familiar with his work. As I was flipping through his portfolio, his photography kind of blew me away.

I asked if I could share these photos here on Unreal Hawaii and Tom was kind enough to oblige.


Above: Hawaii Kai, Oahu.

Tom is not a professional photographer but he’s got the shutter bug bad. Real bad. Like shoot photos every single day bad. In fact, he’s set a goal to post one interesting photo a day on Instagram (


The way Tom was introduced to photography was pretty random. Famous HDR photographer, Trey Ratcliff (the man behind, contacted him and invited him to the Burning Man Festival. Trey told Tom that he needed to bring a camera. Though he had no experience in photography, Tom agreed to go and bought himself his first DSLR, a Nikon D7000.


The photos Tom got at Burning Man are stunning. Burning Man is in the desert and there are dust storms. When the dust comes, most photographers run for cover or shield their gear. Tom, being new to all this just kept snapping away and came back with some incredible shots. The dusk helped isolate his subjects the same way fog can.

As I was flipping through the photos on Tom’s iPad, these Burning Man images really caught my eye. Amazingly, this was Tom’s first attempt at photography. I could tell he has a natural eye for composition and a knack for capturing a moment.


As we talked about the Burning Man experience, Tom mentioned that he was surprised at how his photos looked when he reviewed them on his camera. He had experience in creating art in the past but had never worked in a medium where you can see results so immediately. Once he realized he could create art (that he was proud of) in a medium where you could produce a final product in a short period of time, Tom became hooked on photography.

I know if I took photos like these my first time shooting with my DSLR I’d be hooked too.


Above: Road on Big Island, Hawaii.

Shortly after Burning Man, Tom upgraded his gear. He currently shoots with a Nikon D4 and D800e. He’s been getting some super nice photos of Hawaii.


Above: John Hook sitting a rock bridge on Oahu.


Above: Ed and Dallas White standing on a ledge in front of the Kalapana lava flow.


Above: The Portlock cliffs on Oahu.


Above: The view from the Pali Lookout (Oahu).


Above: The moonrise over Chinaman’s Hat (Oahu).

* * *

Tom’s portfolio is also full of photos from his travels around the world. He told me that he never really had the urge to travel until he took an interest in photography. I guess he never had a reason to explore. But photography gave him that reason and Tom spent three months last year on a photo tour of some beautiful places around the world.

Here are some frames Tom’s shot during his travels.


Above: Sydney Harbour Bridge, Australia.


Above: Batu Caves, Kuala Lumpur.


Above: Taroko Gorge, Taiwan.


Above: Burros in Red Rock Canyon, Las Vegas.


Above: Mountain road in China.


Above: The Hagia Sophia, Turkey.


Above: The Clock Tower, London.


Above: Forbidden City, China.


Above: Zion National Park.


Above: Mount Cook, New Zealand.


Above: Venice, Italy.

There are plenty more photos in Tom’s portfolio that you can only see on his Instagram profile (or on his iPad). I hope you’ll have fun discovering Hawaii (and the world) through Tom’s lens.

You can follow Tom online here:

This story was last modified on May 18, 2013. (Originally published in February 2013.)

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