cole thompson photography
Issue 120 - July 30, 2022
Negative Intersections No. 124
My Friend!
In this issue:

  • Inspirational Quotes

  • Negative Intersections

  • The Story Behind the Image

  • Who is John Barclay?

  • Print Drawing

Some of my favorite inspirational quotes:

"I think of Black and White as a naked image; there is no color to hide behind."

Cole Thompson

"Some people tell me everything isn’t black and white. 
But I say “why the hell not?”

John Wayne

"When we resort to comparisons, we always come up short."


Really Wrong Myths About What It Means To Be Creative

Only certain special people are creative.

Creativity is a rarefied quality which you are either born with or not.

Not everyone is creative.

Creativity needs to be learned or taught.

Creativity can be graded or quantified.

Creativity is somehow intrinsically related to things like making money or becoming famous.

Without external validation ( I.e. money or fame) your creativity is not very worthwhile.

Chris Zydel

"Protect yourself from people who don't have any rights to criticize, let alone attack your work."

Georgia O’Keeffe

"The one who follows the crowd will usually go no further than the crowd."


“Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery…that mediocrity can pay to greatness.”

First part: Charles Caleb Colton and second part: Oscar Wilde

"There is only one difference between a madman and me. I am not mad"

Salvador Dali

"Photography is a poor man's art and anyone who wants an original print should be able to own one."

Edward Weston

"I say, play your own way. Don't play what the public wants — you play what you want and let the public pick up on what you doing - even if it does take them fifteen, twenty years."

Thelonious Monk

"When I die, I want to die like my grandfather - who died peacefully in his sleep. Not screaming like all the other passengers in his car."


Negative Intersections
Negative Intersections No. 146

Behind every positive image, is a negative one.

And sometimes the two intersect.
Negative Intersections No. 67
Negative Intersections No. 45
Negative Intersections No. 40
Negative Intersections No. 153
Negative Intersections No. 11
Negative Intersections No. 151
Negative Intersections No. 147
Negative Intersections No. 144
Negative Intersections No. 141
Negative Intersections No. 131
Negative Intersections No. 120
Negative Intersections No. 115
Negative Intersections No. 112
Negative Intersections No. 104
Negative Intersections No. 92
Negative Intersections No. 37
Negative Intersections No. 32
Negative Intersections No. 4
Negative Intersections No. 154
Negative Intersections No. 152
Negative Intersections No. 150
Negative Intersections No. 145
Negative Intersections No. 72
Negative Intersections No. 29
Negative Intersections No. 134
Negative Intersections No. 124
"The Story Behind the Image"
Lone Man No. 75

This past January I finally made it back to Death Valley, the first time since the pandemic started, and it felt great! I was there with my friend John Barclay, and we had taken our workshop to Zabriskie Point.

Now I'm not a big fan of Zabriskie Point, simply because so many people come to just photograph the iconic Manly Beacon. They line up in a row waiting for the sun to rise and then "click!" and they've all taken nearly identical shots:

Monkey See, Monkey Do

And while they're lined up on "Lemming Point," I'm looking for something different to shoot. Here are a few of my Zabriskie images:

Time No. 2
Lone Man, Zabriskie Point
Breakfast at Zabriskie's

So here I am at Zabriskie, looking for anything other than Manly Beacon to photograph, when I see this "dude" walking around the viewing platform with a skeleton on his back. He's wearing it like a person might wear a sweater they've taken off and have tied the arms around their neck.

Only this is a skeleton...

I'm watching this guy and wondering what's going on here...he's a little strange and acting oddly.


He then leaves the viewing platform and climbs onto a hill overlooking Manly Beacon, and sets the skeleton down. He's silhouetted against a dramatic sky and this catches my eye, and so I get out my 400 mm with my 1.4X and start composing.

As I zoom in on him, I notice that he's staring straight at me. Now, he's not staring in my general direction, or at something close to me, but straight at me.

It was unnerving.

I ignored him and kept working, but it felt really odd having someone stare you down with a skeleton sitting next to them (girlfriend? ex-girlfriend?)

I underexposed the image for the look that I had envisioned, and cloned out the skeleton (perhaps I should have cloned out the guy and left the skeleton?)

I really like the simplicity of this image and it's a great addition to my "Lone Man" series.

And that's the story behind the image.
Who is John Barclay?
John Barclay
Who is John Barclay?

In my presentations and articles, I'll often take a potshot at John Barclay. Most people surmise that John MUST be a friend, but some don't know this and wonder why I'm picking on poor little John. (poor little John...he's about 7'2" and wears a size 28 shoe!)

But the truth is that John and I are friends...good friends, and one could even call us brothers. We met several years ago and after getting to know each other, John invited me to join him on one of his workshops to Death Valley.

I was reluctant, simply because the things I had heard about workshops ran contrary to my personal beliefs on how photography should be taught. But then John explained his approach and I gave it a go, and had a great time (despite John's many, many, many annoying habits!)

John's approach matches my philosophy, and that's to help others find and follow their Vision. John sometimes uses different words like: "create images that makes your heart sing," but we are both singing the same tune.

John is the only person I do workshops with. We've done them in Death Valley, the Oregon Coast, and the Faroe Islands. We had planned a workshop to Easter Island, but then the pandemic hit (I hope we will add that back in 2023).

And when I was invited to do "Out of Death Valley," I did so only on the condition that John and I could work together.

One thing that really surprised me about John's workshop was the participants: most had been on a previous workshop with John and most had been on several, with one person having done 43 with him! Clearly they should be getting psychiatric help, rather than going on workshops with John (sorry Terry!)

With time, I learned the reason why he had so many repeat "customers." It was because John is a genuinely good and kind person. His "customers" are not just customers, they become his friends. And I've been so fortunate to make many good friends through John and his workshops.

Something else I noticed; John cultivates a positive attitude that permeates the workshop and the attendees. He is a positive person and he attracts positive people. Going on a workshop with John is a fun experience.

Now let's talk about John's photography. He works in both Black and White and Color (biting my tongue, biting my tongue, biting my tongue) and his B&W work is really, really good.

I am jealous of many of his images, such as the one above and the one below:

Seriously, how does B&W get any better than this?

And his Color images are amazing also:

John is a great photographer and a wonderful teacher, but more importantly...he is a good person. And this is the highest compliment I can give someone.

I hope with this article, I can be forgiven for all of the mean things I have said about John...and for all of the things I will continue to say about him.

It's just that he's such an easy target!

Here is John's website:
Print Drawing

The winner of my last print drawing is Rob Olson who will be receiving a print of "Isolated No. 21."

Congratulations Rob! Please contact me and arrange for your print to be delivered.

For this month's print drawing, I'll be giving away "Manzanar" (above). If you do not know the story behind Manzanar, please look it up, it's a tragedy that we should be aware of so that it's not repeated.

To enter: send an email to and put "Manzanar" in the subject line.

Thanks for entering!