(Gull and Moon - Anaheim, CA
situations can sometimes lead to positive experiences. I had
one of those recently.
was showing "The Ghosts of Auschwitz-Birkenau" to the
Rochester Jewish Federation when I noticed a older dignified woman in
the crowd, her name was Eva Abrams. I spoke to the group about
my experience at Auschwitz as a photographer and then Eva spoke about
her experience at Auschwitz, as a survivor.
was 17 years old when she was sent to the camp during the last year
of World War II. As the war neared the end, she and 1000 other women
were forced on a six week winter death march to Bavaria. Each
day women who could not walk were executed, and this is how Eva lost
her sister and 11 year old niece. One day Eva couldn't walk
anymore and was told she would be shot at twilight. Nineteen
women were lined up, with Eva on the end. As the machine gun
fired and took the life of each person, Eva fell unwounded and was
assumed dead. She lay there on a heap of bodies for several
hours until two SS men came to look for survivors. They stood on Eva
as they surveyed the scene, but she did not move.
crawled into the woods where she found crude shelter and survived the
night. Eva then made her way to a village and begged for food,
she had not eaten a proper meal for over a year. Unfortunately
the villagers fed her fat and dumplings which her body was not
prepared for and she became deathly ill. She approached a woman
on a farm who turned out to be a doctor and she nursed Eva back to
health. The woman's husband had been forced into joining the SS and
after the war Eva wrote the Americans on his behalf and this helped
secure his freedom.
the 1000 women who started off on foot that winter, Eva may have been
the only survivor. Fifty women had completed the march and then
were executed by the SS.
I've had the honor of meeting a number of Holocaust survivors and
listening to each story is always uncomfortable. My thoughts
are always the same: how could humans be so cruel? How
could anyone survive such an ordeal? Could I have been that
was a bittersweet moment to listen to Eva's story, both uncomfortable
and a positive experience at the same time.
Read more about the Nazi Death Marches
The Story Behind the Image
(Old Wardour Castle - England -
A couple of years ago my
family and I were vacationing in a small village on the coast of
England and the only preparations I
had made to photograph there was to bring along a white bed sheet.
The Story of the White
I had recently
photographed ghosts at Auschwitz-Birkenau and wondered if I could
carry this theme over to other historical sites. The trip to
England seemed perfect with all its history and castles so readily
available. But this time I thought, instead of relying on the
unsuspecting tourists to play the role of ghost, I would control my
subjects a bit more by using my daughter Mason. And so we brought
a white bed sheet to transform her into a ghost.
We photographed at many
sites and sometimes the ghost was the prime focus of the image while
other times it was only a small element of the image, as in "Old Wardour Castle" above.
We experimented with
different "ghosting" techniques and settled on the
"30-second spin." Mason would stand in one spot and spin
for 30 seconds. Initially it was hard because she would get
dizzy and start to drift, but she soon mastered it and became and
Generally the castles
were pretty deserted and only occasionally did we run into other
tourists. Imagine this scene: your walking around an ancient castle
when you come across someone in a white sheet spinning around! The
parents were generally too reserved to act interested or to ask what
we were doing, but their children would watch and giggle.
I didn't really care for
this series much and learned an important lesson from the experience.
The ghost idea worked at Auschwitz-Birkenau because I felt inspired
to do it and because it had purpose there, but at the castles it
seemed merely a cheap gimmick. I was trying to capitalize on a
"technique" rather than find new inspiration.
But alas it was not a
wasted effort! I did get the one image above that I really like, my
daughter and I have a great memory and I learned an important lesson;
don't copy others, even if it's yourself!
Mark Your Calendars
(Blizzard - Washington DC Mall -
There are two upcoming events I'd like to tell you about, in case
you'll be in Colorado this upcoming June;
Collins Studio Tour.
Each year the artists of Fort Collins open up their studios for
a weekend and the city turns out to watch them create and exhibit
their work. This year it will be on Saturday/Sunday, June 23rd and
If you'll be in the
area, please stop by my home where I'll be exhibiting all large
pieces this year. More information to come as we get closer to the
The Dairy Center for the Arts exhibition of The
Ghosts of Auschwitz-Birkenau. The Dairy is a wonderful venue just
down the road in Boulder, Colorado. The exhibit opens with a
reception on June 22nd and will remain open through July 27th.
This will be the first time that I'll show my new larger prints
which delivers added impact to the series.
Sometimes I'm asked to
pick my favorite image, but that is impossible. It would be
like having to pick a favorite child, how could a parent do such a
thing? Even picking my favorite nine images for this newsletter
was extremely difficult and if you were to ask me next month, I might
pick a few different ones.
Through the month of
May, all nine of these images will be discounted by 30%.
The image size is 10X15
and is matted to 20X24 for horizontal images and the square images
are 12X12 and matted to 20X20.
The sale price is $280
(was $400 before the 30% discount).
To purchase, simply email me to discuss your order.Cole@ColeThompsonPhotography.com
* Read about my work done at Joshua Tree in
the "Focus on Singh-Ray" blog
* The April edition of NEWS de Cordoba features one of my
Auschwitz images on the cover and all sixteen images from portfolio
inside. This is the official publication for the Photographic
Association of Cordoba, Spain.
* One of my images is
featured on the cover of the textbook, "A Portable
* Several of my
Grain Silo images will soon be offered by Restoration Hardware in
their new Wall Decor offerings. These will
be very large prints.
* The website "Fuel Your Photography" featured me and
my work in an Indy Spotlight
(Skeleton - Fort Collins, CO -
The winner of this
months drawing is David Zlotky who will receive a print of his
The next drawing is for
a signed copy of the book "Why Photographs Work" by George
Barr which features an analysis of one of my Auschwitz images.
For those of you new to
my newsletter drawings, all you need do is email me at
Of course if you'd like
to also say hello, I'd love to hear from you!
Cole Thompson Photography