based in Stockton, CA
alex Thompson portfolio on Visura - a professional network to connect with photo editors and art buyers, and build photography portfolio websites. Visura members, like alex, share photojournalism, art photography, landscape, travel photography, portraits and more. alex has 4 projects, 8 community news posts, and 0 images shared in the photo stream.
In the famous words of Walt Whitman, "I am large, I contain multitudes.: More definitively, I am the type of person that views the world from the corner of my eye. My reality is formed from the...
Delighted to share that an image from my project on Wyoming's ongoing environmental crisis, 'Veins of God', will be part of a grassroots group exhibition on the streets of New York City called Photowalk Astoria. This exhibition is put on by Newsweek's former Director of Photography Shaminder Dulai who has long been a champion of untold documentary stories.
If you're in town from Aug 18th - 28th, 2017— please stop by and see it before the images are pulled down and destroyed forever! View more, here.
One of my images of artist Illma Gore, who painted Donald Trump with a small penis, is featured in a recent article about her work on Narratively. See it at: http://narrative.ly/the-artist-who-famously-emasculated-trump-is-now-painting-with-your-blood/
For about 5 months, I've been working on a long term project documenting communities on the fringes of society along the SF Bay-Delta. I stumbled upon this photograph after culling through images I've made in the last couple of weeks taking pictures of people who live in houseboats. For many reasons, it's my favorite photograph now.
My latest contribution to PetaPixel uses a review of Justine Kurland's latest book Highway Kind as a catalyst to talk about photography's long-time love affair with the road. Here's an excerpt:
"The voice of the photographer has acted like an anthropological record of American ways of living, following each dead-end road, dusty highway, and crossing every bridge to reach the fringes of our society in order to make our view whole. In the life of the medium, photography and the road have become synonymous with each other because this combination powerfully shows us parts of our world that we might otherwise forget is there at all."
In nearly two months, the President of the United States of America will be Donald J. Trump. With the media working to uncover Trump’s influence in perpetuating hate across the nation, they have painted a target on themselves that will be difficult to remove even after Trump has left the oval office. Currently, this country is watching as a storm of violence against the media brews violently offshore, waiting to gain enough momentum to make landfall and rip every newsroom to shreds. This moment in time is an important one, especially for the photojournalist whose craft bears a legacy of exposing injustice and corruption the world over.
For decades, the work of the photojournalist has been a trusted resource in reporting on the world’s complexities. Memorable images like Robert Capa’s “Falling Soldier” that grab hold of the viewer’s heartstrings and pull them ever closer into the realities of war and death or Stuart Franklin’s “Tank Man” that invites viewers to fight against injustice in the form of a lone man standing up against the tyranny imposed on his country by a corrupt and authoritarian regime, have played a pivotal role in how the world understands itself. In recent history we have images from protests in Ferguson against police brutality and photographs from the shores of Greece that depict refugees fleeing a deadly war in Syria. All of these images are important in influencing American reactions to our government’s own actions (or lack thereof) regarding the injustices we continually see. When images and video from protests in North Dakota against the Dakota Access Pipeline emerged, the United States erupted with anger and demanded that our President take action. Although Obama was not quick or especially effective in his initial efforts to quell the anger, he responded to it.
Photojournalists have always had a small but significant voice in inspiring the citizens of this country, and any free democracy, to demand their government to act. Unfortunately with the election of an anti-media President, this role is quickly diminishing. At many of his rallies, Trump would incite fury within his supporters aimed at the media who apparently serve only a corrupt agenda provided to them by the powerful elite. The media (who he exploited to gain free press coverage by spewing a rhetoric of hate and intolerance) he supposed, was working against him and a democratic process of election to “rig the system” and the pit the people of this country against him. None of this is true, obviously, but Trump knows that his army of passionate supporters will believe nearly anything that he says. This is most exemplified in his use of Twitter as a medium to reach his audience rather than relying on the fact-checking ethics of the modern journalist. As his own speeches have proved, anyone who criticizes what he says or stands in defiance of the falsities he preaches, is an enemy of him and his supporters and now, an enemy of the state.
Photographers who follow the journalistic traditions of the medium must now realize that they are targets. To produce work that is a commentary on the way this country is being run — either by showing the failed policies of city governments like in Flint, Michigan or by exposing poverty created by a system that neglects its most vulnerable citizens — is a dangerous effort. When the people who support a man who hates the media begin to believe that anyone who serves an agenda of the press is the enemy, they may very well start to turn on anyone who resembles them. This has already been embodied in the actions of his supporters at his rallies, and elsewhere, who are notorious for harassing the media.
During a Black Lives Matter protest taking place at a Donald Trump rally, veteran photographer and VII Photo Agency member Christopher Morris was choke-slammed by a Secret Service agent assigned to cover the Republican candidate. After being arrested and on his way out of the auditorium, Morris hastily answers questions about the events that occurred and describes how after stepping a few inches out of the media area, the agent began harassing him. After an exchange of words, mainly insults, the situation quickly escalated into Morris being thrown to the ground by the agent and swiftly removed from the scene. This was one of the first realizations of the danger we are all in.
In another video, a journalist records a Trump supporter at a rally in Florida berating the media. As he leaves the auditorium he approaches the media and begins yelling at them, calling them traitors, flipping them off and saying “up yours”. Quickly, the rest of the media flocks to him and begins recording him on their phones while he becomes more riled up and continues screaming at them.
Even those who wish to make a simple statement about society using the classical form of political satire are at risk. Earlier this year, artist Illma Gore famously painted a picture of Donald Trump with a small penis. The painting was satirical in nature and meant to criticize the pompous attitude of the President-elect, commenting on the need for most men to defend their manhood by declaring the size of their genitalia. While Trump threatened legal action against her (which forced all United States galleries to avoid showing this painting) she proudly stood in defiance. One night, she was walking to her home in West Hollywood when a car pulled up beside her, yelling vulgarities among the phrase “Trump 2016”. She says a man ran up to her, punched her in the face, quickly clambered back into the car and then disappeared into the night. This was an extremely brazen act of violence and can only be interpreted as being the offender’s way of trying to shut her up for good.
When Photojournalist Kyle Ludowitz descended on a protest in Oakland after Donald Trump won the Presidential Election, he intended to photograph the demonstration. Soon after it started, however, it became increasingly violent with some demonstrators vandalizing and looting Oakland businesses. While he photographed these rioters, he was attacked by them. They began punching him in the face while he tried to protect his cameras. Once he fell to the ground however, he knew it was over. They took one camera from him, smashed the other into pieces and began kicking him repeatedly. The attack ended after some other protesters nearby helped him. Ludowitz says in an interview with SF Gate that he believes the violence was caused by people coming to Oakland from outside the area, hoping to undermine the demonstration. Regardless of who committed the violence, it is important to understand that when we live in a world that targets and attacks our media, the very backbone of democracy is at risk. Kyle Ludowitz was not attempting to judge or give his own opinion on the events of that night. He was simply trying to take images that might be capable of telling a bigger story.
In an autocratic government like Russia or Turkey, journalists are thrown in jail or even killed for criticizing the government and their associates or attempting to expose their corruption. No due process exists for them; they are enemies of the state and must be silenced. This imprisonment of the free press is a direct assault on the concept of a democracy and only serves to further the agenda of a corrupt government. President Erdogan of Turkey has already imprisoned 120 journalists with charges of terrorism — the result of their criticism of the government and a failed coup attempt that Erdogan has linked them to. In Russia, an ominous threat resonates from the Kremlin where murdered journalists leave a legacy of fear in their colleagues who are careful not to criticize Putin and his minions. To silence opposition removes the threat of losing power therefore perpetuating a state that lives constantly in fear of the absolute ruler.
Actions that resemble these are very likely to be seen in the next four years. Instead of the government encroaching on the first amendment, a militia of Americans against the press will emerge as a regulating body under President Trump. The citizenship will unite against those willing to expose the hard truths and call them liars and tyrants. No longer will champions of the free press like the New York Times or the Washington Post be looked to for truthful information. New media like Twitter and Facebook will rise to prominence as purveyors of truth. The tyrannical rhetoric spewed by those who exploit the role of this media will have no system of checks and balances to prove them wrong. Images of hardship and violence will be either ignored or annulled by those that wish to perpetrate the spread of false news in order to mislead the public. Dark days are ahead for the world of photojournalists but that does not mean that backing down is an option.
Regardless of the coming dangers in an era of President Trump, there must remain a degree of bravery in photojournalism. We must unite against the world of fake-media and Twitter rants that are based on emotional arguments and have no factual revelations. More now than ever, the role of the photojournalist is imperative to upholding democracy in this country. The only way to fight back against a monolithic government that incites violence against the very people risking everything to expose unjust realities and uphold the meaning of a democratic society is to further propel their significance and let nothing stand in the way of unmasking the truth. We are in the midst of a revolution of the press that threatens everything we have come to respect and it is up to us to protect our legacy or forever forfeit our right to a truly free and independent society.