Tom Hunter

Like Jeff Wall and Hannah Starkey, Tom Hunter is also well known for his tableaux photography.

© Tom Hunter - Woman Reading Possession Order, 1998
© Tom Hunter – Woman Reading Possession Order, 1998
  • He uses a large format camera and tripod
  • He uses polaroids for planning out his scenes
  • Draws inspiration from iconic Victorian paintings and recreates the scenes in a contemporary setting
  • Infuses the mood of the Victorian paintings into his modern industrial settings
  • His work is socially aware and pays tribute to art history
  • He uses well known art motifs in his work, e.g. the window as in Vermeer’s paintings
  • His portraiture pays tribute to the Dutch Renaissance and pre-Raphaelite master painters
  • He simulates similar colours and tones as those used by Vermeer
  • His portraits are of the disenfranchised people living close to the margins of society
  • His work is a blend of fictional and factual
  • He most often replicates Vermeer’s methods of portraiture:

… amongst the art historical references glimpsed within Hunter’s oeuvre, the voyeurism of Vermeer is most discernible. Subjects are often shown full figure, in private spheres (e.g. sites of domesticity), and set in the mid-ground in order to include something of their environment.

Birch, Tim

  • Charlotte Cotton (2009, p. 55) states: When historical visual motifs are used in a contemporary photographic subject in this way, they act as a confirmation that contemporary life carries a degree of symbolism and cultural preoccupation in parallel with other times in history, and art’s position of being a chronicler of contemporary fables is asserted’.

Reference List

Birch, Tim (2012). Website Essay. [online] Tom Hunter. Available from: [Accessed 23 February, 2016]

Cotton, Charlotte (2009). The Photograph as Contemporary Art. London: Thames & Hudson

Photographer Spotlight: Tom Hunter [webcast, online]. LA Review of Books. 13/05/2014. 7 mins 18 secs. Available at: (accessed 12 March, 2016)


Tom Hunter: Life and Death in Hackney [online] National Gallery of Art. Available from: [Accessed 23 February, 2016]

Pulver, Andrew (2009). Photographer Tom Hunter’s best shot [online]. The Guardian. Available from: [Accessed 23 February, 2016]


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