Photography by David Thompson, Interview by Xaver Paul.
As an ambitious portrait photographer, David Thompson explores the intricacies of representing the human face. Having been featured in various publications like Vogue and the New York Times Magazine, he undoubtedly has a respected approach to the photographic medium. Aserica had a chance to ask him a few questions about his work.
XP: How would you describe yourself as a photographer?
DT: Well it’s hard to talk about one’s self, but I think I’m a very committed and experienced professional photographer, sometimes to the point of being a bit obsessive.
I’m quite good at dealing with people and through the photographic process, getting something essential out of them and into the image. I like my sessions to be a very collaborative experience between me and my subjects.
I’ve been told that I have a deep understanding of the craft of photography, as I have shot extensively on everything from 10” x 8” large format plate cameras right through to my iPhone. Now every thing is second nature, which allows me to let go – to bend and sometimes break the rules in order to reach my creative goals.
XP: Your photographs investigate the intricacies of the human face. What is about the human face that made you decide to dedicate a whole photo project to it?
DT: The human face fascinates me in it’s endless variety and complexity. There is a great subtlety in the visual comunication that goes on when someone examines another human face. It’s the most basic form of human communication and predates any spoken language.
XP: Could you elaborate a little bit on your choice of sepia and black and white tones to represent the human face?
DT: My thinking is to remove the distraction of colour, and produce a timeless image. What I’m trying to communicate doesn’t require colour.
The tones I’m using are a direct legacy of my background in traditional darkroom printing. They aren’t “sepia” but rather reference the qualities of my earlier “lith” printing techniques represented in digital form - although some of the work is produced on film.
XP: Your work, at least the ones shown on your website, focuses predominantly on the faces of young women. Why this focus?
DT: I photograph many men too and find them fascinating, but yes there is a predominance of women, however not all of them young. This stems from my background as a fashion and beauty photographer, where most of my commissioned work involves shooting women. Perhaps I’m trying to express alternative forms of beauty which are more authentic, timeless and expressive at a time when imagery can be so short lived and disposable.
XP: On your website you mention your father was a photographer. How important was he in developing your passion and style in photography? What does he think of your photography these days?
DT: Sadly my father is no longer around to tell me what he thinks – but I’m sure he would have been proud of what I’ve achieved professionally.
He was a keen amateur photographer, and we had a darkroom set up in the garage, so I knew my way around the practicalities of photography from a very early age. I think my passion for photography and my photographic style comes more from myself though,
from my travels, and work and life experiences.
XP: Where do you see yourself progressing artistically in the future to come?
DT: I would like to develop both as a pure artist following my inspiration, but also go on to shoot more commissioned fashion and celebrity portraiture in this simple authentic style.
I’m also working on some landscapes, still lives and other forms of photography which can be seen on my Instagram account (thompsonstudio), and I’m developing ways of showing this work along side the portraits, as very interesting visual dynamics can be created between the images.
I’m planning to shoot in more parts of the world, including possibly in South East Asia, and have new photographic agents in the UK and Germany who are helping me to develop various projects and commissions.
More of his work can be found on: https://davidthompsonportraits.com/