Tommy Hatwell: Round the world and back again

First of all, many thanks to everyone who helped with this evening - it was real team effort and a very good indication of how this club works. This was repaid by an excellent evening and an attendance of well over 50 including many non-members.

And what of Tommy? Well, here was a tale of a young man whose journey from world-wide adventurer to ambassador for S-O-U-L an NGO initiative through photography was truly uplifting. Now a commercial photographer living in Plymouth, Tommy spoke with feeling about the way he uses photography to create long-term relationships and to help build better lives.

Initially you might have doubted that a person whose lifestyle seemed to revolve around water sports and a complete disregard for his own personal safety, could achieve so much in just over 30 years - but he has. What appeared to be a life made up of random events and decisions was also one which showed some shrewd planning and an ability to sum up possibilities. This was emphasised completely by one of his earliest images of a killer whale hunting that made you gasp every time you saw both the still image and the video clips which followed.

But it was his images from Uganda which were really eye-catching as well as technically remarkable considering what a short time he has been practising and studying photography. Not least was his image 'Night School' which was shortlisted for the prestigious Taylor Wessing portrait exhibition in the National Portrait Gallery in 2018 or the one of the Ugandan boy painted in the colours of the national flag. Sometimes travel photography can seem to be exploitative but in Tommy's case it is far more a case of 'giving back'. His mantra is 'Every image has a name and every image is earned.' And building long-term relationships with his photographic subjects was very evident especially in his new project 'The Sleep Well Project' of which you can find details on his website at

This was an evening with a difference - so many thanks to Diane Rowe for booking him and to everyone who made it work so well.