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The Art of Yellowstone Science
Mammoth Hot Springs as a Window on the Universe

University of Illinois

Tom Murphy


Tom Murphy was raised on a 7,500 acre cattle ranch in western South Dakota. This experience taught him more than he wanted to know about cows and convinced him that he didn’t want to chase them for the rest of his life, but it also provided him with invaluable lessons in animal behavior and a deep love for clean, wide open land. Tom graduated with honors from Montana State University in 1984 with a Bachelor of Science Degree in Anthropology. He spent many years combining photography with archeological field work. Tom’s interest in photography began in 1972.

In 1978 he established a professional career in photography in Livingston, Montana. His photographic passion and specialty is Yellowstone National Park. Since 1975 he has traveled extensively within its 3,400 square miles. He has skied across the Park three times, once on a 14 day solo trip. The most recent trip, in the winter of 2016, was filmed for a movie, “The Journey Through Yellowstone.” Two things motivated him to travel with a heavy backpack, a desire to see Yellowstone’s wilderness backcountry and to photograph it. He established Wilderness Photography Expeditions in 1986, and built an internationally respected photography seminar company teaching natural history photography. Tom was the first person licensed to lead photography tours in Yellowstone Park.

He donates the use of his photography to environmental groups to support their efforts for conservation and preservation. His photographs have been used, both editorially and commercially, in numerous regional, national, and international publications. Clients include Life, Architectural Digest, National Geographic, Audubon and Time. Newsweek, The New York Times Magazine, National Geographic Adventure, Esquire and others have sent him on assignments. His first book, Silence and Solitude, Yellowstone’s Winter Wilderness, won a 2002 Montana Book Award. Tom’s video, Silence and Solitude, produced by Montana PBS, earned an Emmy nomination for his photography and videography. His series of books, The Seasons of Yellowstone, published by Crystal Creek Press illustrates each of the four seasons in the Park. He has also published Photographs of Yellowstone in 2016 with captions and stories translated into Chinese. PBS Nature’s show “Christmas in Yellowstone” features Tom’s winter photography and some of his backcountry skiing stories. It has been aired internationally each December on PBS since 2006.

Be sure to check out more of his photography

The Art of Yellowstone Science: Mammoth Hot Springs as a Window on the Universe
by Bruce W. Fouke & Tom Murphy