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Interview with Photographer Abigail Thompson

Abby is from Minesota U.S.A. and she is currently attending University of Kentucky. She likes hiking, playing soccer and climbing. She have traveled mostly inside U.S. with her family and she’ve enjoyed camping trips to various national parks.

1) What is your full name and where exactly do you live?

My name is Abigail Thompson, though most people call me Abby. I am originally from Minnesota, but at the moment I am living in Lexington, Kentucky and attending the University of Kentucky.

2) Please tell us about your background and what inspired you to become a Photographer?

My parents had a film camera that went on every family vacation with us, and I just loved it. I can’t really think of a specific point in time that really made me fall in love with photography, but I knew from a very young age that photography was something I was interested in. Then my older siblings took some photography classes in high school, and I was anxious to be old enough to do the same. Once I got in the dark room for my high school class and started taking pictures on a regular basis I was hooked, and it made me want to pursue photography even more.

3) What are the top three things you like to do when you have free time.

I really enjoy pretty much anything athletic; going for a run, hiking, playing a game of soccer, and climbing. Anything that gets me outside and requires physical activity is fun for me. I also really like to paint, and when I have time I love to just sit and do that. And third, would be reading, although I haven’t done much of it lately. But, give me a good book and I won’t move for hours.

4) What is the most important factor in making a good photograph?

For me, the most important thing is generally light. If the light is good, I feel that I can for the most part make the most mundane objects look interesting. The right light can really make all the difference for me.

5) What are the two things you always have with you, on your desk, when you are working?

My cell phone is constantly right next to me, and some paper with a good pen. I am generally writing things down and doodling or scribbling while I work.

6) Are you a Mac or PC user?

I am a Mac user!

7) What applications do you use the most?

I use Photoshop, and Google Chrome the most. They are constantly open on my computer.

8) Have you ever traveled? If so, where to?

I have traveled some, nothing major though. I have never left the U.S. but my family and I go on camping trips pretty often, so I have been to various national parks out west with them as well as quite a few other states for various trips and vacations.

9) Give us a few characteristics necessary for every photographer.

Persistence is probably one of the most important things for a photographer. You have to be willing to keep taking photographs no matter what, even when things get difficult or when the images aren’t turning out all that great.

Also photographers need to be willing to be in uncomfortable situations. If you stick to the comfortable you won’t learn nearly as much, and your work will stay the same. Being willing to experiment and branch out is so important for growth within photography.

10) Here is a tough one, what inspires you? Is there a specific website that you browse? Do you go out for a walk? 

There are lots of things that I get inspiration from, and it is pretty unpredictable, which unfortunately is something I am currently struggling with. Going out for a walk or hike can spark it sometimes, or even just when I am in my car driving. I tend to get inspired in the wee hours of the morning (3am seems to be a consistent time for some reason) as well, and it is generally just when I am lying in my bed trying to sleep. And of course I browse various websites (like flickr) that can often spark ideas for me.

Also, if I just find one object and start taking pictures of it, often times I get a spark of inspiration as I see what is coming out and am able to come up with new ideas as I shoot.

11) For you personally what are the pros and cons of being a photographer. 

One of the biggest benefits for me is simply that it allows me to express things that I wouldn’t normally express. I tend to bottle things up and photography (and especially self-portraits) lets me get things off my chest. After shooting something that I feel expresses what I am dealing with I always feel a sense of relief and calm that not much else can make me feel. I even get the same sense of calm that I felt while shooting when I go back months later and re-look at the images.

Thinking of a con is a little bit harder. It is something that changes depending on the type of photography I am doing. At the moment I am trying to push my conceptual work, and one of the cons associated with that, which is in contrast to the benefit I just explained, is the extreme frustration in trying to find a concept that I can really expand on, and one that I feel expresses what I want it to. In my personal work that I use as a way of venting I don’t necessarily worry about my meaning coming across exactly as I intended since is it so personal. But when it comes down to creating a body of work I really aim to convey some sort of emotion or meaning. When I can’t find a way to express a certain idea it eats at me, and I get frustrated and worn down very quickly by trying to come up with a way to fix it.

12) Show us your masterpiece and describe it.

I would have to say my image titled “Searching” is one of my favorite images that I have captured. I had found the lantern at my friend’s house and immediately got the idea for the image stuck in my head. The timing of the shot was slightly tricky, because I had a very specific look in mind and the type of light was extremely important for that. The actual set up of the shot was really simple once the light got to the right point, and I pretty much just hopped in front of the camera and had a friend release the shutter for me.

The photograph came at a great time because I was really trying to figure things out in my life, and so the searching right before dusk was pretty symbolic for me. It was also the end of a project that had me taking a self-portrait every week for a year (although it ended up taking longer than a year), and felt like an excellent way to end the project and sum things up.

13) Are you a self-learner? Which skills have you developed by yourself? 

I am mostly a self-learner. I have been in school for photography for 4 years, so much of what I know has been taught by my professors. Even when I have been learning things in classes though, I generally have to just jump in and actually get my hands on things to figure it out myself before I really, truly understand it.

Since those four years of school were mostly focused on film, I have had to teach myself about digital photography. Everything I know about Photoshop and other editing programs I have developed on my own, and various types of photography (such as high-speed) I have learned on my own as well.

14) Please link your personal profiles 

Flickr: http://www.flickr.com/photos/aithom2/

Blog: http://abigailthompson.wordpress.com

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/pages/Abigail-Thompson-Photography/141593129186628

Twitter: http://twitter.com/#!/aithom2

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