cole thompson photography
Issue 117 - February 5, 2021
Powerlines No. 25
My Friend!

After one year of isolation, I took a road trip on the backroads of Texas, New Mexico, Arizona, Utah and Colorado. I avoided people and cities and spent a lot of time looking and thinking.

I only came home with a few images, but I did create one that I am particularly fond of. Initially I was a little disappointed that I only brought home a few, but then my wife reminded me that I've always said that if I come home with just one image that I love, then it was a successful trip.

And so I had a successful trip.
I recently read this quote by Kurt Vonnegut and it made me think about those who are intent on winning, earning likes and beating others.

“When I was 15, I spent a month working on an archeological dig. I was talking to one of the archeologists one day during our lunch break and he asked those kinds of “getting to know you” questions you ask young people: Do you play sports? What’s your favorite subject? And I told him, no I don’t play any sports. I do theater, I’m in choir, I play the violin and piano, I used to take art classes.
And he went WOW. That’s amazing! And I said, “Oh no, but I’m not any good at ANY of them.”
And he said something then that I will never forget and which absolutely blew my mind because no one had ever said anything like it to me before: “I don’t think being good at things is the point of doing them. I think you’ve got all these wonderful experiences with different skills, and that all teaches you things and makes you an interesting person, no matter how well you do them.”
And that honestly changed my life. Because I went from a failure, someone who hadn’t been talented enough at anything to excel, to someone who did things because I enjoyed them. I had been raised in such an achievement-oriented environment, so inundated with the myth of Talent, that I thought it was only worth doing things if you could “Win” at them.”
- Kurt Vonnegut
In this issue:

  • New Images

  • A New "The Story Behind the Image"

  • Would It Be Worth It?

  • LensWork: Those Who Inspire Me (and Why)

  • Eye vs Vision

  • EARTH IS OUR WITNESS: Auschwitz-Birkenau

  • Where You Can Zoom Me Next

  • Print Drawing
New Images
Powerlines No. 25
Harbinger No. 41
Ship Rock
Lone Horse
Powerlines No. 27
Jet Trails No. 10
Lake Powell
A New "The Story Behind the Image"
I've added a new audio recording to "The Story Behind the Image."

If you've not listened to these before, it's a short story about how the image came to be.

In this case "Watched" is about how someone proclaimed me "brilliant" for what I did with this image. Listen and learn how I was not so brilliant!

Would It Be Worth it?
Las Vegas Detail No. 3
I have been a HUGE Beatles fan ever since I first saw them on the Ed Sullivan Show in 1964. Several years later I became a fan of the band Badfinger who reminded me of the Beatles.

Well it turns out that the Beatles and Badfinger were connected...very connected. Badfinger was the first band that Apple Corps signed. The name "Badfinger" came from the working title for the song "With A Little Help From My Friends." And two of the Beatles wrote songs for Badfinger.

But despite this backing, Badfinger was struggling to be recognized and get on the charts. Paul McCartney came to the rescue by offering them the song "Come and Get It." But the offer came with a condition: McCartney had to produce the song and it had to be done exactly like the demo tape he had recorded.

From Songfacts:

Paul McCartney recorded the demo of this song prior to a Beatles recording session at Abbey Road studios. He played all the instruments on the demo and had a clear vision for how it should sound.

In The Beatles Anthology book, he explained that Badfinger wanted to do the song more in their own style, but he insisted they do it the same as on his demo, because he knew it would be a hit if done his way.

He was right: the song was the breakout single for Badfinger.

McCartney had a "clear vision" of how the song should sound and didn't allow Badfinger to deviate a bit. And he was right, it was a big hit.

But was it worth it?

In this instance the band was merely a marionette. Yes, a successful marionette after following McCartney's detailed direction, but a marionette nonetheless.

What would you do if a prominent photographer said to you: let me manage your photography...I'll tell where to go, what to shoot and how to process it. I'll guarantee you success but you must follow my every direction exactly.

Would it be worth it?

You would enjoy success that would open doors and introduce your work to new audiences...

But would it be worth it?

If your goal is fame and accolades, then you might think so. But if you want to create images that you love and are proud of, then that success would feel fraudulent and unfulfilling.

I believe we each must find our own Vision and not rely on the Vision of others. Copying other's images, styles, techniques, following the latest fads or listening to others about your work is not the way to find your Vision.

But rather forge ahead on your own, learn to know what you want, critically analyze your work, evaluate what you like and dislike about your images, learn from your mistakes and improve again and again and again. That is how you grow, develop your Vision and become independent.

So, would it be worth it?

For me the answer is no. I'd rather follow my Vision and be mediocre in the eyes of others rather than be a successful marionette.
LensWork - Those Who Inspire Me (and Why)
I was surprised to discover that Brooks Jensen had recorded a commentary about my work in his "Those Who Inspire Me (and Why).“

From the Author's Preface:

I started writing this book about 7 years ago. After considerable thought, instead of publishing this content as traditional book, Those Who Inspire Me (and Why) will be published here, as a series of downloadable audios.

Consider it a small token of my immense gratitude to all those who have pioneered this way of life that I love, and a passing-on of the invaluable contributions they've made to our creative lives. — Brooks Jensen

I’ve been a fan of LensWork from the very first time I laid eyes on it. It is the finest B&W publication in the world and I’m always honored to be mentioned or my images featured. Thank you Brooks.

Eye vs. Vision
I've added a new section to my website called "Eye vs Vision."

I've had so many people ask me to describe my Vision, and all I‘ve been able to say is:

It's just the way that I see...

Which really didn't help them to understand because words cannot convey a Vision.

So I had this idea: what if I could show what my "eye" saw and then what my Vision saw?

Here's an example:
When I create an image, I am not trying to document what I‘m seeing with my eyes, but rather show you what I'm seeing in my head. Creating a great image has little to do with your eyes and everything to do with your Vision.

Please take a look at some of my popular images, first through my eyes and then through my Vision.

EARTH IS OUR WITNESS - Auschwitz-Birkenau
On January 27th, 2021 I was invited by Parimal Deshpande to talk about my experience at Auschwitz-Birkenau on the anniversary of the liberation of those camps.

In this discussion I talk in detail about this project, how I got there, my feelings and each image.

The live event has already taken place, but you can watch the recorded discussion by following this link:

Where You Can Zoom Me Next
Children's Pool, Exploding Wave

Here's where I'll be Zooming!

  • 2/8/2021 at 7;30 pm EST - Webinar to the Newton Camera Club

  • 2/9/2021 at 7 pm PST - Webinar for the Tri City Photography Club

  • 2/16/2021 at 7 pm MST - Webinar for the Alpine Camera Club

  • 2/23/2021 at 7 pm PST - Webinar for the Victoria Camera Club

  • 3/8/2021 at 7 pm CST - Webinar for the Johnson Country Camera Club

  • 3/9/2021 at 7 pm MST - Webinar for the Englewood Camera Club

  • 3/10/2021 at 7:00 pm MST - Webinar to the Vistoso Camera Club

  • 3/11/2021 at 7 pm MST - Webinar for the Alberta Camera Club

  • 3/15/2021 at 7 pm EST - Webinar for the Etobicoke Camera Club 

  • 3/16/2021 at 7 pm PST - Webinar for the Channel City Camera Club

  • 3/23/2021 at 19:30 hrs GMT - Webinar for the Leamington Spa Photographic Society

  • 3/24/2021 at 7 pm EST - Webinar for the Hillsborough Digital Photographic Society

  • 3/25/2021 at 7:30 pm EST - Webinar for the Photo Venture Camera Club

  • 3/31/2021 at 7:30 pm EST - Webinar for the Essex Photo Club

  • 4/7/2021 at 7 pm EST - Webinar for the Central Maryland Photography Guild

  • 4/7/2021 at 7 pm MST - Webinar for the Delta Photo Club

  • 4/13/2021 - Tentative Webinar for the Chester Country Camera Club

  • 4/19/2021 at 7:30 pm PST - Webinar for the Los Gatos - Saratoga Camera Club

  • 5/4/2021 at 7 pm PST - Webinar for the Sunshine Coast Camera Club

  • 5/12/20201 at 7:30 pm EST - Webinar for the The Ground Glass Photo Group

  • 5/12/2021 at 7:00 pm EST - Webinar for the Long Island Center of Photography

  • 6/3/2021 at 7:30 pm PST - Webinar for the Santa Clara Camera Club

  • 6/9/2021 at 7:00 pm EST - Webinar for the Princeton Photography Club
  • 7/13/2021 at 6:30 pm CST - Shades Valley Camera Club

  • 7/8/2021 at 7 pm EST - Webinar to the Doylestown Camera Club

  • 7/13/2021 at 7:30 pm UK - Webinar for the Cleethorpes Camera Club

  • 11/10/2021 - Webinar for the Focus Camera Club

  • 11/23/2021 - Webinar for the Lanark County Camera Club

People often ask if they can "attend" one of these Zoom presentations. Because I am only a guest at these events, I don't have the authority to say yes or no. A few of these events do charge an attendance fee, but from my experience most do not and are willing to let outsiders attend.

If you know of a group that would like to have me speak, please have them email me at:

Print Drawing
Birkenau No. 1

The winner of my last print drawing is Catherine Malm who will be receiving a print of "Rushing Waters."

Congratulations Catherine! Please contact me and arrange for your print to be delivered.
For this month's print drawing, I'll be giving away "Birkenau No. 1" (above).

To enter: send an email to and put "Birkenau" in the subject line.

Thanks for entering!