For today’s edition of Meet the Maker, we’ve decided to venture into the creative world of photography. Introducing the young and talented, Kyle Thompson. Kyle specializes in surreal self portraits, and he’s used everything from flour to flames to create them. You may have seen some of his work on the web already; it’s been spreading like wildfire. If not, just take a look at a few of his photographs here, and you’ll start to understand what everyone’s talking about.
First things first, tell us a little about yourself.
My name is Kyle Thompson. I’m a photographer originally from Chicago, but am currently living in Oregon. I recently got back from a six month drive around the country, where I lived out of my car and with strangers while creating my first photo book Somewhere Else.
When and why did you decide to start taking photographs?
I started going to abandoned houses in the rural areas around where I lived. I wanted to learn about the people who used to live there and started taking self portraits in the homes as an emotional release. I loved how lonely the houses felt and wanted to try to combine that feeling with my own thoughts and create images that I felt expressed myself.
Tell us why you love to do what you do.
I love being able to express myself through photography. It’s really therapeutic for me. Even with images that aren’t so personal, it’s so beautiful to be able to create a moment that never really existed. Something that is so real, yet contrived. You can create a moment that never occurred but continues to live in its own unchanging state, and I love that.
How do you choose your projects? Where do you get your inspiration?
I work on tons of projects at once. I’ll usually just wait until I come up with an idea that I’d like to explore more thoroughly and start planning each shot. I try to find inspiration in different places. I often use personal experiences and feelings of isolation and loneliness.
What’s a typical day on the job look like for you? Is there even such a thing?
It definitely depends. There’s a lot of variety that goes along with it, and it’s good not to get too comfortable with a routine. If I’m not working on commissioned projects, I’ll usually try to plan out some new images. I shoot around three to four times a week. I try to plan things out as much as possible, so I’m always out buying props and equipment. I get prints made usually once a week or so for gallery work or private investors and have been doing a lot for the release of my new book lately.
What other creative hobbies do you have?
Right now, photography definitely takes up most of my mind. I’m working on getting into filmmaking soon as well; it seems like a good next step since I want to learn more. Before photography, I used to draw and paint a lot, but I kind of stopped. I guess I love that instant gratification photography has. I’ve always had creative interests, but usually pick one at a time instead of focusing on many at once.
What’s one piece of advice you’d share with aspiring photographers?
Finding inspiration in others’ work is great, but work to develop your own style as well. Find something you like about your work, and explore that more. Figure out new ways to explain an emotion or story in an image, and try to plan as much out ahead of time as possible.
What camera do you shoot with? How has technology changed or supported what you do?
I shoot with a Canon 5D Mark II and usually with a 50mm or 35mm. I think technology has helped a lot, but I’ve never been super crazy about gear. The lenses I use are cheap, and I guess I’m too stubborn to change that at the moment. I think technology helps, but as cliche as it is, the camera doesn’t matter all that much.
Have any interesting stories to tell us?
I spent six months living out of my car and driving around the country for my photo book, so a bunch happened with that. I spent a night sleeping alone in a ghost town during the trip. I found the house with the cleanest bed and slept there. When I woke up, there were raccoons crawling down the stairs.
What’s up next for you?
I’m working on a big series for the end of the year entitled Ghost Town. I also have my book Somewhere Else coming out at the end of the month!
Intrigued by Kyle Thompson’s work? Head on over to his website to check out more and share your thoughts in the comments below!