Update: Sadly, the Photographic Society of New Zealand has made the difficult decision to cancel this year’s National Convention in consideration of the COVID-19 situation. Although photographer Cole Thompson will no longer be visiting for the event, please enjoy our interview with the monochrome master:
Come late April this year, the Photographic Society of New Zealand will host its 68th National Convention. Dubbed 2020/Vision: The Art of Seeing, it will be held in Christchurch.
An impressive roster of photographic guests will converge on the resurgent city for a slate of inspiring talks and workshops.
One of the farthest-flung keynote speakers at the event is Cole Thompson, a Colorado-based photographer renowned for his moody black-and-white practice. He’s an advocate for black-and-white as the “perfect medium for any subject” and Cole will be making the visual argument to prove this proposition at the event.
“Black-and-white has this unique ability to reduce an image down to the bare essentials of shape, form, composition, lightness, darkness, and contrast,” he says.
“Colour can grab my attention, but black and white holds it.”
Photography in general grabbed Cole’s attention at the age of 14, thanks to a book about Kodak founder George Eastman.
“It was reading about man’s attempt to capture an image and George Eastman’s relentless pursuit to make photography available to the masses. Photography seemed like pure magic to me and I wanted to learn magic.”
The experience made him realize, before ever taking a photo or stepping into a darkroom, that he was destined to be a photographer. And Cole has never looked back.
Those who get along to his talks will get to hear the photographer’s take on topics like: “Vision, Photographic Celibacy, Don’t Listen to Others, Cole’s Rule of Thirds,” and more.
“And I’ll also be telling some ‘tall tales’ from my photographic journeys … some of which are even true.”
During the convention, he will also lead a workshop to demonstrate how he works, and teach such subjects as approaching a new location and using long exposure to simplify images.
He’ll be doing his own share of photographic wandering as well, giving himself a month to explore Aotearoa — in his own distinct fashion, of course.
“One of the most unusual things that I do to prepare for a visit to a new location is to not prepare. I’ll do only two things: book a flight and rent a car.”
There will be no travel guides, iconic locations, or looking at other people’s work from New Zealand. He’s not even booking accommodation in advance. Instead, he plans to “wander aimlessly” in search of a new project.
“But if I don’t find one, that’s okay, I’ll still enjoy the journey.”
Don’t miss your chance to learn from this unique creative mind this year at 2020/Vision Christchurch.
PSNZ National Convention
Theme: 2020/Vision: The Art of Seeing
Date: 23–26 April
Location: Charles Luney Auditorium, St Margaret’s College, Christchurch