Ed Thompson is a British photographer, artist and lecturer. His own photographic work has focused on various subjects over the years from covering environmental issues socio-political movements subcultures and the consequences of war.
His early work was influenced by an apprenticeship with the Russian photographer Sergey Chilikov, whom he met at the Arles Photography Festival in 2002. He stayed with Sergey in Paris and learnt the value of shooting everyday life, Sergey’s friend, Gueorgui Pinkhassov, told him how ‘the everyday can allow you to touch at something great’.
Some of his photographic projects have been heavily research based; their ideas developed spending years within groups and associations developing contacts, gaining knowledge and understanding. He prides himself on emotionally engaging with the people and issues he photographs. It is through his empathy and compassion that Thompson gains both a visual and emotional proximity.
In 2007 he studied the Master’s Degree in Photojournalism and Documentary Photography at the London College of Communication for which he received a first class distinction, during that time he worked on various photo-series including The Texas Hill Country and Living Historians.
He lives in the South-East of England working on regular assignments both in the U.K and worldwide.
In The Unseen Ed Thompson has set out to explore the boundaries of perception, whether they are things outside our visual spectrum or events that go unnoticed or unreported.
A respected British photographer, his work has focused on various subjects over the years – from covering environmental issues, socio-political movements, subcultures and the consequences of war. In his work he often tries to be as intimate with a group as possible, to empathise with them and try to see what they saw in themselves. But there are limits to our sight; a documentary photographer can only photograph what they can see.
In 2010, while researching ways of documenting the haunted village of Pluckley in Kent, he stumbled upon articles claiming that ghosts could be revealed with infrared photography. Under normal conditions we see a visible wavelength of light between 400-700 nanometers and that’s the range of light most cameras record. After some research he found that Infrared film with the correct filtration can reveal light between 750-1000 nanometers, it allows the invisible to be photographed.
After photographing The Village (2011) with 6 rolls of medium format Kodak Aerochrome film he started to research why this curious film had been made in the first place. From the original Kodak advertisements he devised a wider project using some of the last dead-stock rolls of Kodak Aerochrome in existence – pushing its boundaries to reveal the unseen. There are five parts to the project which had to be photographed on only 31 rolls of colour infrared film.
Some of the project directly makes use of the films abilities: in The Red Forest (2012); Thompson uses infrared film to document the condition of the most radioactive forest in the world. In The Flood (2012) Thompson takes one of the original purposes of the film – the documentation of crops post-flood via aerial photography – and instead repurposes the film by making portraits of families who have been affected on the ground.
The project is supported by The Arts Council England.