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Updated: Mar 8

Photographer Thomas Drechsel has been announced as one of the jurors of the 2024 Cape Fear Living Photographer of the Year Competition, along with Photographer Matt Ray and Editor Colleen Thompson. With years of experience and an accomplished photographer, T.J. captures a depth of emotion in each of his subjects. His unique use of light and color showcases the beauty of the Cape Fear region through his lens in a stunning way.

TJ Drechsel Cape Fear Living Photographer of the Year

T.J.’s love of photography started way back with a wind up a disposable camera. “I remember taking a trip to beautiful Puerto Vallarta, Mexico and seeing one of the top 5 sunsets I've ever seen, snapping a photo, and getting back to realize the picture didn't compare to the reality of the moment. My journey began then to find out how to translate the amazing wonder of a moment of life so that other people could somehow experience the same awe. It's still my goal today to bring the emotions of a moment for my clients to cherish for a lifetime.”


How would you describe your style of photography?

I love emotion, color and mood. In my photography, I seek to translate emotion and feeling into my craft. 


Do you have a photo shoot that stands out for you?

Over the past few years, I've captured some amazing international weddings, from Vieques and Puerto Rico to Cancun and, just recently, St. Lucia. Being a landscape photographer and capturing the magic of a wedding day are two roles I genuinely enjoy.


What makes Wilmington so unique and inspiring for a photographer?

Just go as far east as you can, and I think the answer is clear. Living on the edge of the continent is utterly amazing. About 20 years ago, I came to visit and immediately knew I had to live here. There is magic in the salt water, and the Wilmington area has some of the most beautiful coastlines and backwaters. Shooting here makes for easy work as a photographer! 

As a judge in this year's Cape Fear Living Photographer of the Year. What will you be looking for with this year's entries?

As photographers, it takes time to find our unique voice in our work. However, when we do, something special starts to happen. Sometimes, we just get lucky with the perfect timing and location, but I also believe that our work reflects something we feel as photographers. That is what I am hoping to see in the entries- something that truly speaks to each photographer in their work. I am excited to be a part of this and look forward to witnessing all the local talent.

What has photography taught you?

Passion and life. We all get something that makes us come alive, and your goal is to find it. For me, it's photography and freezing time. It's really a superpower that we offer clients and I'm honored every time I'm booked, printed, or called. 


What is the best advice anyone ever gave you about looking at something through a lens?

As you delve deeper into photography, you realize it's not just about having the best equipment. The people I've mentored or learned from have emphasized that the message conveyed through your work is the most crucial aspect. The process of improving your photography skills is thrilling, and there is always room for growth. Continuously developing your skills is a personal gift, and it is an artistic journey. 

What would you advise someone looking to create their own unique path as a photographer?

As mentioned above, it's all about finding your voice as a photographer. Once you have that style, you grow. For a while, everyone mimics other photographers, and that is very normal, but the goal is to find your own style. That is when the magic starts.


What camera do you use?

I've been a Canon guy since the beginning. Canon R5 is my baby. 

Would you like to share any upcoming projects with us?

Working in the local community is a great opportunity to establish connections and use social networking to promote your work. I have been able to outfit numerous local offices with my landscape photography of sunrise, beach, downtown, and sunset shots. You can see my work throughout the nCino building, Big Surf Restaurant, multiple top real estate offices, and Famous Toastary to name a few. It's an honor to share the beauty of the coast that God has given us with the community through local businesses. I have a few projects in the works that I will leave for my clients to showcase but suffice to say I've always got something in the works.

Follow T.J.'s journey on Instagram.


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