Tom Zannes, an acclaimed cave videographer and frequent juror for the NSS Video Salon, died of brain cancer in June of 2006 at the age of 56. Tom loved the outdoors, and was one of those rare folks who was able to combine his love of caves with his life’s work.
He began his career as a cameraman, reporter, and morning anchor for Albuquerque TV stations, then became a staff cameraman, lighting director, and engineer for NBC News in New York. For the past 17 years he has operated his own freelance business, Electronic Films, specializing in outdoor productions requiring climbing, rigging, and underwater and aerial photography. His clients include all the broadcast networks, National Geographic, PBS, A&E, TLC, and the BBC. Tom’s outstanding work has been recognized by three Emmy’s for cinematography and numerous other awards.
Tom came to prominence in the caving world when
he shot the exclusive footage of the 1991 Emily Davis Mobley rescue from Lechuguilla
Cave, which dominated the national media for a week. His video “Spirit
of Exploration” won the Best of Show award at the 1994 Video Salon,
and remains one of the most outstanding caving productions ever made. His “Cave
Conservation and Ethics” video won Best of Show in 2001, and has
become a standard for minimal impact caving. His service as a Video Salon juror
has brought a high degree of professionalism and credibility to that competition.
It’s safe to say that Tom’s work has introduced more people to the beauty and importance of caves than any other. Tom was remembered at the 2006 NSS Video Salon with a short montage of some of his best recognized shots.
As an enduring remembrance of Tom, the
Best of Show award for the Video Salon will henceforth
be named “The Tom Zannes Award”
for excellence in cave videography.