Thomas James Hurst grew up in Mill Valley, Calif. He first picked up a camera, an old Nikormat, at the age of 21 when he went to Bosnia in 1992. After returning to Bosnia a second time in 1993, he decided to study photojournalism at San Francisco State University.  

During winter and summer breaks, he traveled to Haiti, Afghanistan and Rwanda and also interned at daily newspapers. His work has appeared in such publications as Time magazineThe New York Times and The Boston Globe

In 1997, he worked as a staff photographer for The Boston Globe. Two years later, following his coverage of the war in Kosovo, he began working for The Seattle Times. 

Thomas spent a month in Iraq in 2004 and in 2005 covered the devastating earthquake in the Kashmir region of Pakistan, earning him the Photograph of the Year award by Editor and Publisher magazine.

In 2010, only days after a magnitude 7.0 earthquake struck the caribbean island of Haiti, Thomas was given the opportunity to fly into the decimated city of Port-Au-Prince on the private jet loaded with medicines and supplies. Thomas was tasked with documenting as much as he could in less than 24-hours hours before having to return to the United States aboard that same Jet. The images Thomas captured in that short window of time went on to help raise more than $1 million dollars in donations for those rebuilding in Haiti.

His work has been honored several times by World Press Photo, The Associated Press, the Society of Professional Journalists, and he was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize for his contribution to The Seattle Times staff’s coverage of the WTO riots in 1999.