NCM Participant Profile Apr 15: Ed Thompson

30 Apr 2015

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 to the consequences of war. His photo-essays have been published by National Geographic Magazine, BBC and The Guardian Weekend Magazine and exhibited at Christies, Somerset House and Four Corners (London). 

What impact has New Creative Markets had on you?

New Creative Markets (NCM) had a huge impact on my work because although I am an intrepid and passionate documentary photographer I can be a little hermit like - in short, I am an anti-social social documentary photographer. I come off as being very capable, looking back at the places I've been and the people I've photographed I am. The downside to this is that often people don't think I need any help. With Four Corners, Dave Than and Owen Thomas' support NCM gave me the opportunity to have a solo exhibition of recent work The Unseen at Four Corners and the response has been meteoric.

The exhibition was listed by TimeOut London as one of the unmissable art events of the week. The work went viral online with the BBC, Featureshoot, Vice Motherboard, Designboom and others sending it all over the world with bloggers sharing the work from Brazil to Russia. Print sales have followed and I have sold out of editions of some of the prints already. There's a book coming next year with a top international publisher.

What aspect of the programme do you see yourself implementing?

As a self-taught web designer the lessons on websites and agencies were very informative and I adapted and updated my own website with what I learned accordingly. The self-employment and tax lessons were very good, I now give a lecture on self-employment as part of the module I lecture on at LCC! 

The biggest lesson was learning how to make the transition from professional editorial documentary photographer to a photographer who has received recognition for his own archive of self-initiated work and projects. I am sure I received Arts Council funding to complete The Unseen because of this. I do believe that The Unseen would not have been completed in its current guise without Four Corners and NCM, certainly not being the global success that it has become.  

What is the most useful thing you have learnt on the programme?

The NCM series of lectures and talks helped to reaffirm some things I had right as a photographer and other things I didn't. NCM was also one of the first places I lectured about my work to a small group, incidentally, whilst giving that lecture I had an email from Al Jazeera wanting me to go into their studio the following morning and speak about issues in photojournalism. Good timing!

Since then I have lectured regularly at universities and have even given a talk on my Occupy London work at the V&A Museum. I've also spoken regularly on television and radio, most recently speaking live on the BBC World Service which has an audience of around 265 million people a week. So good job I got my practice in at Four Corners.

Thanks to Ed for taking part in this Participant Profile.