Tom grew up in a mixed, though predominantly Irish, working-class neighborhood in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.
He served in the U.S. Navy in Vietnam and has since been deeply involved in conflict resolution and veterans' movements.
He was part of a delegation of Vietnam veterans to visit Russia in 1990 and 1991, working with Soviet veterans of the war in Afghanistan, and he has photographed many other conflict in the world.
Responding to the legacy inherited from his Irish mother, Marcella Jane Quinn, he was drawn to Northern Ireland in order to explore the effect The Troubles have on the children there. He currently lives in Boulder County, Colorado.