Donor Spotlight | Tom Steele

photo by Tom Steele

February 22, 2019

By Yvette DeBow-Salsedo


Our thanks go to photographer Tom Steele who donated an extraordinary print of our Phillips Pond Preserve which now graces our new offices in Southampton. The print is 32”x 60” and captures the beauty of this coastal pond and the ocean dunes protected by the Trust.

Phillips Pond Preserve, the first gift of land in the Trust’s 35-year history, would not have happened if not for the generosity of the late Burton Brous. It was donated to the Trust in 1984 wit the assistance of The Nature Conservancy. An adjacent parcel was also donated to the Trust in 1986 by Mr. Brous. Tom’s iconic image of the property has been featured in numerous stories about the preserve.

“In 2005 I organized the first “Labor Day Landscape Show” which was at Ashawagh Hall in Springs and the Peconic Land Trust was the beneficiary,” explains Tom of his earliest involvement with the Trust

“It's an honor for me to donate this iconic image to the Trust for its permanent collection… My images are grand in scale, generally in the range of 60" to 120" in width. The scale of the prints and the clarity that I am now achieving creates a sense of "being there" in the landscape, connecting the viewer to the landscape and to nature.”

Tom Steele

“My hope is to create these connections through my work. I’m currently working on a new series of East End Landscapes so keep posted for an upcoming exhibition featuring all new images.”

Early inspiration

”My parents took the family camping, a lot,” Tom added. “In the early 60’s we traveled cross country then up to Alaska and back. We saw a lot of country, a lot of wilderness and had a few “too close” encounters with bears. I’m sure the experience of traveling the country has influenced my landscape photographs.”

In the 80’s, Tom’s work in fashion photography brought him to the East End. “I first came to the East End in the early 80’s for photo shoots. When we were on location shooting in the Hamptons, the East End landscape was our outdoor office; always looking for great locations and good light.”

And what’s coming up … Maine?

“I have applied for an Artist In Residency program with National Park Service in Acadia, Maine. It’s an exciting opportunity to photograph an incredibly beautiful wilderness landscape. My goal would be to create a national traveling exhibition of grand scale prints from Acadia. The exhibition would pay homage to our National Parks and to the importance of continuing its legacy and to the many people who make the National Parks possible through their commitments of time, finances and land. I’ll keep my fingers crossed, announcements are in March.”

Thank you Tom for your support of the Trust over the years and for turning your lens on our beautiful East End landscapes!

Photo by Tom Steele

For those photography buffs, here are the technical details of the extraordinary print from Tom: The Fuji Chrystal UltraHD Print is mounted to Aluminum dibond, which offers the latest advancement in print technology with greater tonal range, more accurate colors, and greater archival properties.

To learn more about Tom’s work, visit his website:

Tom was also part of the founding of the group Plein Air Peconic with artists Gordon Matheson and Casey Chalem Anderson — the group of 13 plein air painters and photographers worked in collaboration with the Peconic Land Trust to capture the beauty of conserved landscapes across the East End. To learn more about Plein Air Peconic, click here.

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