cole thompson photography

Issue 43
November 12th, 2010
The Angel Gabriel
Fluid Water
Why Photographs Work
Drawing Results
5 Christmas Ideas
How to Order
The Fountainhead

Dear Cole, 

This is the Angel Gabriel.  I met him on the Newport Beach pier as he was eating French Fries out of a trash can.  He was homeless and hungry.  I asked him if he would help me with a photograph and in return, I would buy him lunch.


The pier was very crowded and I wanted to take a 30 second exposure so that everyone would disappear except Gabriel.  We tried a few shots and then Gabriel wanted to hold his bible.  The image worked and the only people you can see besides Gabriel are those "ghosts" who lingered long enough for the camera. 


Gabriel and I then went into a restaurant to share a meal; he ordered steak with mushrooms and onions.  When it came, he ate it with his hands.  I discovered he was Romanian and so am I, so we talked about Romania.  He was simple, kind and a pleasure to talk with. 


I asked Gabriel how I might contact him, in case I sold some of the photographs and

wanted to share the money with him.  He said I should give the money to someone who could really use it; that he had everything that he needed. 


Then the Angel Gabriel walked away, content and carrying his only two possessions: a Bible and a bed roll.


May 20th, 2006




The Thanksgiving and Christmas season is a great time to slow down and reflect on those things that are important to us.  And it's a time to give.


Liberty Mutual has run a series of commercials that really touched me.  They are very short and power powerful and are centered around the "pay it forward" concept.   


I hope you'll watch them.



If you're planning on giving a beautiful gift this season, I have a few items that may be appropriate.  Please see more below.

Have a wonderful Thanksgiving and Christmas.


Fluid Water

Fluid Water No 45
(Fluid Water No. 45 - 2010)

I'm teaching a workshop on "Vision" at The Center for Fine Art Photography and one day before class we went out to create images together.  We walked along the Poudre River and this is a new image that I particularly liked.  My fascination with long exposures began with water and I think I'll be working once again on my "Fluid Water" series.

Why Photographs Work

Why Photographs Work 52 Cover

Why Photographs Work, by George Barr
"52 Great Images, What Makes Them Special, Who Made The, and Why

Every photographer, from amateur to pro, can learn by studying the "greats". In Why Photographs Work, author/photographer George Barr analyzes 52 striking images by some of the world's top photographers. Accompanying Barr's analysis of each image is an explanation by the photographer describing the making of the image, including not only the how, but also the why. Also included is a brief technical description of the equipment used in making each image.

With guidance from Barr, we learn to decipher that certain intangible "something" that makes an image go beyond the ordinary. As we gain an understanding of and appreciation for the elements that make an image truly great, we are bound to improve our own images as well.

Included are images by: Charles Cramer, Bruce Barnbaum, Harald Mante, Dan Burkholder, Nick Brandt, Hans Strand, Roman Loranc, Huntington Witherill, Susan Burnstine, Ryuijie, Beth Moon, Phil Borges, Shaun O'Boyle, David Ward, Michael Levin, Michael Reichmann, Michael Kenna, Cole Thompson, George Jerkovich, Bengt Ekelberg, Sandra Davis, Brian Kosoff, Joe Lipka, Gordon Lewis, Lawrence Chrismas, Craig Richards, and many more.

Available through

Auschwitz No. 14
(Auschwitz No. 14 - 2008)

George Barr's Analysis of Auschwitz No. 14:

How do you photograph a place of evil, a place where millions
died? A simple record of the facility hardly conveys the history of the place.
Images of starving inmates liberated near the end of World War II were certainly
effective and helped places like this become memorials to those who suffered and
those who died, yet here we are in a different century, a different millennium, and
even grandparents remember little if anything of the horrors. What an effective
way then, to photograph the ghosts of the people who were shipped to camps like
this by the trainload.

One hardly needs the image title to know that this is not a good place. Even the
ghosts are not required to know that this is some sort of prison, and that with an
unprotected electric fence, human life is not important to the keepers. However,
we do have the title, and the ghosts remind us of the millions who never left, who
died for little more than jealousy, fear, and ignorance.

It isn't entirely clear how Cole was able to record the ghost figures, but it has
been remarkably effective. I feel that if I could focus just a bit better, I'd be able to
see individuals, but I can't quite focus, and this reinforces the sense of loss, of
waste. Even the foreground has telltale signs of prisoners, faded to almost nothing
as we put the past out of mind. The black sky and dark buildings are ominous-the
guard tower a symbol of evil, holding back the mass of people.

Photographs like this make us uncomfortable. In one way they are far removed
from the pristine landscapes by photographers like Ansel Adams, yet those images
too had a message-"This place is worth preserving"-and whether the goal is to
cause you to remember, to feel guilty, or to make you sad, the message is still
stronger when the usual tools of good photographs and composition prevail. Of course, Ansel also photographed politically sensitive subjects, photographing interned Japanese Americans at Manzanar.

The ghosts are all the more effective the simple uncluttered ground they stand on, the fence and electric insulators shown against the dark background in a menacing way, and the guard tower with its simple black background. The overall image is dark, stark, and somber, yet the ghosts show light-perhaps symbolizing guilt and innocence, evil and good.
The tonalities of the ghosts are very effective, almost pretty, and that thought makes us even more uncomfortable, knowing that it is a totally inappropriate thought in viewing
an image like this.

More often than not, a strong design and an uncluttered image will be more effective in getting one's message across. This is a powerful and disturbing image in which technique
has been used, not as an end in itself, but simply as a tool. A very effective tool.

Print Drawing Winner

Tom Aellis
Tom and Sammy

The winner of this month's drawing is Tom Aellis from Freehold, NJ.  I'll be sending Tom a matted print of "Fluid Water No. 3."  Tom is an amazing man, hard stricken with MS and raising his amazing son Jared.  Despite all of Tom's challenges, he always maintains a great and positive attitude.  He's been an inspiration to me.

Five Christmas Gift Ideas

Old Car Interior Poster

Idea Number 1:  Poster

What better way is there to say "I love black and white!" then by hanging great images on your wall?  Posters are available for any of the several hundred images on my website. 

The posters are 16X20, delivered in a tube and postage is included in the US.

Price: $39

The Angel Gabriel Small Print

Idea Number 2:  A Small Print

Looking at a wonderful print on screen is nice...but nothing like holding an original in your hands!  Give the gift of a real print to a friend or loved one. 

These "Small Prints" are 6X9 on an 8-1/2 X 11 fine art paper.  Archivally printed, they are a simply gorgeous choice that must be held to be appreciated.  Choose any of the several hundred images on my website.

Price:  $65

Monolith Folio Cover

Idea Number 3:   Monolith Folio

The Monolith folio is a collection of eight prints that you select from my Monolith portfolio and which I individually print.  If an image is worth a thousand words, then viewing this folio is is like a reading a book of eight thousand words, with each image portraying a different chapter in the story of the monoliths of the Oregon Coast.

The images are archivally printed on 8-1/2 X 11 art paper and enclosed in a tasteful folio case.   

Price:  $200

Lone Man No. 20

Idea Number 4:  8X12 Matted Print

An original print, signed, tastefully matted and framed is the ultimate gift for the lover of black and white photography.  These 8X12 prints are matted to 16X20, numbered (open edition) and then signed.  Choose from any of the images from my website.

Price:  $250


Idea Number 5:  10X15 Matted Print

A larger print breaths life into the images.  At 10X15 and then matted to 20X24, these prints are impressive. 

Price:  $400

How to Order
Primordial Soup
(Primordial Soup - Oregon Coast - 2008)

Ordering is simple and personal.  Find the image you have fallen in love with on my website and then email me at or call me at 970-218-9649. 

I take the calls and I print the orders.  Very simple, very personal.

The Fountainhead

The Fountainhead No 80
(The Fountainhead No. 80 - Columbus, OH)

Here are four new images in The Fountainhead series, two from Columbus and two from Akron, OH.

View the entire Fountainhead portfolio.

The Fountainhead No 81
(The Fountainhead No. 81 - Columbus, OH)

The Fountainhead No 82
(The Fountainhead No. 82 - Akron, OH)

Fountainhead No 71
(The Fountainhead No. 83 - Akron, OH)

About Cole Thompson Photography

Windmills Against Clouds
(Windmills Against Clouds - 2006)

Phone:      970-218-9649

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