After studying philosophy, Tomas developed a passion for photography while enrolled in an overseas university program in Nepal. After graduation in 1999, he moved to Latin America. In 2002, he was the first photographer to document the US military prison in Guantánamo Bay. Tomas returned to Nepal in 2004 to photograph the Maoist rebellion. The resulting photos earned the Visa pour l’Image-Perpignan Young Photographer Award and the Bayeux Prize for War Correspondents. In 2010, Tomas was named the POY Photographer of the Year. Images from Blue Sky Days were first published in Harper's in the largest photo portfolio in the magazine's 164-year history. The series was awarded the 2015 ICP Infinity Award, World Press Photo and other honors. Tomas has been a member of the VII Photo collective since 2010.

Over the past four years, I’ve visited dozens of classrooms in five states with the Pulitzer Center, and I’ve grown accustomed to sharing my work with young people and listening to their concerns. In the aftermath of the election, many of the students I met were gripped with fear and anxiety. Latino, Hispanic and immigrant students were especially worried about discrimination and deportation. Their voices echoed in my mind as I’ve thought deeply about this project and the audiences that I want to reach.
— Tomas Van Houtryve