TOM ZIMBEROFF trained as a classical clarinetist at the USC School of Performing Arts. He was lured away from a career in music after hanging out in bad company, grabbing a camera and touring with rock ’n’ roll bands in the 70s. He was still a teenager when he shot his first photo assignment for Time magazine.
Branching out, he spent twenty-six years traveling throughout the world as a photojournalist on assignment for many major magazines. As an accomplished commercial shooter, too, his work was featured in the annual reports and advertising campaigns of many Fortune 500 companies. His photographs of celebrities, scholars, artists, scientists, business leaders, and politicians—including two sitting American Presidents—were published regularly worldwide and have appeared on the covers of Time, Fortune, Money, and People.
Tom is known for his intimate and perceptive portraiture, which appeals to him metaphorically as a predatory sport. Like a big-game hunter, he stalks his prey, tries for a good clean shot, avoids gratuitous wounds and, then, mounts their heads on a wall to admire like trophies. They can be found hanging in museums and private collections worldwide. His first two portraits were Marx and Lennon—Groucho and John.
Tom’s authoritative experience in the photo business comes firsthand as a shooter, and is memorialized by the articles he’s published in leading industry journals. He is also the author of "Photography: Focus on Profit" (Allworth Press) a textbook used at colleges across the country. He has also taught photography at several Bay Area colleges. He taught himself to write code and developed PhotoByte®, the pioneering business-management software for commercial photographers.
After a ten-year hiatus from shooting pictures to pursue his software business, Tom picked up his cameras once again to illustrate his next book, "Art of the Chopper" (Bulfinch Press/Time-Warner), which is a tribute to his decades-long affinity for custom motorcycles. It became a best-seller, and a second volume followed. Subsequently, he was invited to curate an exhibition of thirty choppers perched on pedestals, accompanied by his portraits of the artists who built them, at the William J. Clinton Presidential Library in Little Rock, Arkansas. The exhibition was featured at two additional museums.
Tom was born in Los Angeles. He was raised there and in Las Vegas. He now lives in San Francisco.