Life and work of tragic King’s Cross plunge death photographer celebrated in Clerkenwell exhibition

The work of a talented young photographer who plunged to his death from a third-floor balcony will be showcased at an exhibition celebrating his life.

Tom Swain died on impact after falling from a flat where he was drinking with friends in St Chad’s Place, King’s Cross, at about 4.45am last August 13.

The tragic 22-year-old had been taking pictures professionally for design firm Company, based in Hatton Wall, Finsbury, since 2008.

He was juggling work with photojournalism studies at the London College of Communication (LCC) in Elephant and Castle.

He left behind a huge body of work, with hundreds of thousands of images filling up eight computer hard drives.

Brother Alex Swain, 34, said: “He was very ambitious and positive about his work, so when he died we felt people had to see more of it.

“He had a lot of talent and that makes it an even bigger loss. We want to celebrate his life and we hope that the exhibition can bring some closure.”

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He said Tom seemed fascinated with photos even at the age of four, when he used to play around with a camera as if it was a toy.

The family embarked on an emotional journey through his vast picture archive to prepare the show, which opens at Frameless Gallery in Clerkenwell Green, Clerkenwell, on Thursday, April 19.

Alex, who runs Company, said: “There are thousands of photos of really high quality and it has been very difficult going through them. We don’t know everything about him, there are pictures from day trips and projects that will remain a mystery.

“It’s been very emotional and we have learned more about his life through the images. ”

The exhibition was put together with help from his former tutor at LCC, Nigel Tanburn, and many of his classmates.

It focuses on images from his travels abroad and coverage of protest movements, including snaps of the student riots and a trip to Egypt made shortly before he died, to capture scenes of the country after the uprising that ousted president Hosni Mubarak.

Alex added: “He just got out there. He loved people and he used his photography to connect with them. He was very personable and a likeable guy. I’m very proud of him.”

Tom’s family – older brothers Alex and Toby and parents John and Caroline – also plan to publish a book of his work.

n Visit to see his pictures.