cole thompson photography
Issue 103 - May 11, 2018
Road to Nowhere No. 7


In this newsletter:

  • New Images
  • Images that I created when I was 14-17 yrs old
  • Upcoming events
  • Lenin's Tomb: the story behind the image
  • William Mumler, Photographic Ghost Huckster
What have I been working on of late? Nothing actually.

I've been waiting for an idea to present itself. I've had a few ideas, but nothing that has excited me and taken off. Until that happens, I'll just enjoy the quiet time and wait.

I'm not good at waiting for most things, but for projects I have learned how to be patient. I used to force it, worry about it, try to rush it...but that has never worked for me.

What I have learned is: when it's time, I'll be ready.

New Images
Titus Canyon, Death Valley

Three Hills in the Panamint Valley

Harbinger No. 32

Harbinger No. 33

Lone Man No. 62

Images From When I Was 14-17 Years Old
Gull and Moon
I recently found some old prints from my youth, created when I was 14-17 years old. I was able to scan them and salvage several semi-decent images.

They brought back some great memories and reminded me of the reason why I had created images as a boy: for the pure joy of creating.

The older I get, the more I come back to my roots and once again create for the pure joy of creating.
Boy Wearing a Fire Hat

Egg in Glass
Gymnastics High Bar


Two Hippies


Apathy Now!

Wooden Indian

1000 Steps

Clay Figure

Self Portrait

Migrant Farm Worker


Men Watching Construction
Fox Theater, Downtown Anaheim

Upcoming Events
Here are several events for people in the Denver and Fort Collins area:

  • 6/1/2018 from 5-7 pm - First Friday at the Bas Bleu Theater. I will be exhibiting some of my large images for First Friday. If you miss this event, I am also here again on 7/6/2018 (see below). Location: Bas Bleu Theater, 401 Pine St, Fort Collins, CO 80524

  • 6/8/2018 at 6:30 pm - Focus Camera Club. I'll be giving two presentations: "Why Black and White" and then "B&W Processing" using my very simple six-step method which is meant to deemphasize the technical and emphasize the creative. Location: Lone Tree Civic Center, 8527 Lone Tree Parkway, Lone Tree, CO.

  • 6/13/2018 at 7 pm - Colorado Mountain Club. I'll be speaking about B&W and how Vision is the most important tool a photographer has in their toolbox, even more important than equipment! Location: American Mountaineering Center at 710 10th Street, Golden, CO,

  • 7/6/2018 - First Friday at the Bas Bleu Theater, Fort Collins. I'm showing my large works from 5-7 pm (I'm lucky to get two First Friday's!) Location: Bas Bleu Theater, 401 Pine St, Fort Collins, CO 80524

If you have any questions, please email me at

I look forward to seeing you at one of these events!
The Story Behind the Image
Smile! Lenin's Tomb
This image is from a fun project that I'm working on called "Smile!"

The series consists of pictures of people taking pictures of people at iconic locations. This one is at Lenin's Tomb.

The Story: I was visiting my son in Moscow and on this day we were visiting Red Square. And it just so happened that this was the day that Lenin's Tomb was being reopened after Vlad had been "freshened up."

The tomb is very dark and there are strict rules with armed guards: no photography, no laughing or smiling, no gum, no capitalistic thoughts...okay, maybe that last one wasn't a formal rule.

It was actually kinda cool and I was getting into it by humming "Revolution" by Lennon as we went through the chamber (get it: humming Lennon while looking at Lenin?).

As we emerged there was a television crew who wanted to interview me. They asked what I thought about exhibiting Lenin: should they continue or retire the poor devil? (my words, not theirs)

Well, I have this sarcastic streak in me and my brain was working overtime on what to say...and more importantly...what not to say! I decided to play it safe and said that this was an issue for the Russian people to decide.

Pretty diplomatic, eh? (my son is a diplomat in Moscow and maybe he gets his tact from me?)

A funny part of this story is that my son was in the background, on camera, smiling away at my predicament. In Russia excessive smiling is often seen as a sign of mental impairment and his friends saw him on television grinning away.

Here's another "Smile!" image from the same day and location:

William Mumler, Photographic Ghost Huckster
Mary Todd Lincoln with the Ghost of her deceased husband, Abraham LIncoln.

"William Mumler was a 19th-century photographer who took portraits of people and the ghosts of their departed. And he made a good living at it until he was arrested for fraud."

I was made aware of an interesting podcast about William Mumler who in the 1800's would photograph ghosts of loved ones, for a profit. The story piqued my interest because I have often been accused of trying to perpetrate fraud with my Auschwitz Ghost images.

What happens is that someone will be looking for ghostly apparition photos and run across my series "The Ghosts of Auschwitz-Birkenau." Once they learn that these are not real ghosts, they become upset and accuse me of trying to trick people via Photoshop.

And this was not my first experience with people who believe in ghosts. Several years ago, before Auschwitz, I was photographing a spiral staircase at the Stanley Hotel in Estes Park. This is the haunted hotel that inspired the Stephen King's novel "The Shining."

I was using a long exposure to "ghost" people as they went up and down the staircase when a Ghost Tour passed by me. One of the participants saw the ghostly image on the back of my camera and excitedly asked if I was photographing ghosts.

I went with it and said that I was...and made that tour guide very happy.

You might find the story of William Mumler of interest. Below is a description of the podcast with the audio link. I found it interesting perhaps because I could have easily become a ghost huckster myself.
"Americans after the Civil War yearned for signs from the other side, and that’s where the Spiritualist movement stepped in. But William Mumler didn’t just knock on tables and walls. He was a photographer who captured faint images of ghosts caressing those they had left behind. And he made a good living at it until he was arrested as a fraud. Historian Peter Manseau joins us Thursday to tell Mumler’s story and the story of a nation clinging to belief.

Peter Manseau is a writer and historian. He’s curator of American religious history at The Smithsonian in Washington, D.C. His book is called The Apparitionists: A Tale of Phantoms, Fraud, Photography, and the Man Who Captured Lincoln’s Ghost."

You can read listen to the podcast here :
Print Drawing
The winner of my last drawing is Kay Schemel who will be taking home a print of "Windsurfing."

Congratulations Kay! Please contact me and arrange for your print to be delivered.

To enter this newsletter drawing for Isolated No. 3 (above), send me an email at and put "Isolated" in the subject line.

And of course, say hello if you like!

Contact Me