Featured CPAC Member: Tom Finke


Member Since: 2019

We are always impressed by our many talented members and the photographic art they produce. The ways they inspire us. This quarter, we are excited to share the social documentary images of Tom Finke. In exploring Finke’s black and white captures of the urban landscape of Japan from his series, Silent Places, we are given the opportunity to reflect on the aspects of who we are and how we present ourselves. This work was most recently part of the 2021 Month of Photography Denver Festival, presented at the Curtis Center for the Arts in the exhibition Black & White in the 21st Century.


Silent Places

By Tom Finke

The Song Dynasty (960-1279) poet, Wei T’ai, wrote: “Poetry presents the thing in order to convey the feeling. It should be precise about the thing and reticent about the feeling, for as soon as the mind responds to and connects with the thing, the feeling arises from the words; this is how poetry enters deeply into us.”

Photographs, like poems, do not explain anything; they present evidence of things seen and they show us ways of seeing. They can be evocative as well as descriptive, ambiguous as well as accurate.

Can I share with you what I felt and thought through the act of showing you what I saw and how I saw it? I believe so, as long as you are open to that possibility.

The evidence presented here is of various small, unprepossessing places, simultaneously resonant and silent, within the fabric of urban Japan. But also present in these photographs, I hope, are intimations of feeling that arise from the particulars that are, like the words from which poems are constructed, intrinsic to the medium.


Tom Finke was born in Dayton, Ohio and completed his M.F.A. at the University of Cincinnati and continued his education by attending photographic workshops at The Zone VI Studios in Vermont, the Maine Photographic Workshops in Rockport, Maine, and enrolled in the PhD program at Arizona State University. He has traveled extensively across the United States, Asia, and the South Pacific.

He began teaching college-level photography in 1979 and currently his classes in photography concentrate on dealing with the aesthetic, technical, historical, and critical analysis of the photographic processes.

His work has been exhibited nationally and internationally and is held in numerous public, corporate, and private collects both in the United States and abroad.

Much of his work is social documentary in nature, centering on the aspects of who we are and how we present ourselves.  In 2015, Sokyusha Publishing in Japan, published two books of his work, one consisting of Social Documentary Images made in the America and the other Social Documentary Images made in Japan. Additionally, he has produced two limited edition hand-made books in association with Bloodroot Press in Ann Arbor, MI, and numerous other bodies of work.

Website: www.tomfinke.com

Instagram: @finkephoto