400 Winslow Way East, #120
Bainbridge Island
Washington 98110
206 780-9500
Hours: Tues-Sat 11-6, Sun Noon-5, Closed on Mondays


William Thompson

For as long as Poulsbo-based artist William Thompson can remember he has had an insatiable quest for adventure and the exploration of cultures around the world. He trained as a cultural anthropologist (ultimately earning a PhD); he then delved into fine art painting, working on an MFA, but then “magic” happened.  He discovered that the camera was the direct pathway to his eyes, heart and brain… his true creative “paintbrush’.

For 12 years Thompson had the good fortune to photograph for the National Geographic on assignment around the world. With his anthropologically defined mindset he saw things in terms of the essential truth of his subject’s lives — that gleam of light in the heart of darkness. His visual travels took him into many exciting and often unexplored corners of a very large world.  While with National Geographic, Thompson made the first and, to date, only complete aerial imagery of Mt. Everest. This imagery of the ‘top of the world’ was created over many months destined for the lead story in the 100 year anniversary issue of the magazine.  Other NGS adventures include trekking across Bhutan by yak train, exploring its people and geography; he defined the life of the Kathmandu Valley for the NGS in another major magazine story. Thompson traveled extensively though Africa for over a year (and Asia for another year) following the elephants of the world on their tragic path toward extinction - almost becoming extinct himself after contracting cerebral malaria in the Central African Republic.

The last 20 years of Thompson’s professional career has been defined by commercial image making—directing film and still photography for premier global corporations. His iconic images are well recognized in marketing campaigns for clients including Wells Fargo, Marlboro, Boeing, United Airlines, Intel, and Holland America to name a few.  However, in recent years Thompson decided to make a critical shift in the application of his creativity. He redirected his high-level professional film and still competence towards short and long form films that contribute to the world. He notes, “My goal is simply that my imagery should enlighten, create ideas, define passions, allow discovery, and above all, make a ‘difference that makes a difference’.”

In this light, Thompson recently completed three short films. The first is a film to help get women off the streets of Seattle and transition into a more normal life; the second film is a dialog about the tragedy of stillborn children, and the third a perspective of the unique and positive relationship between Alzheimer’s disease and art therapy.

In other venues, Thompson recently taught a University Course entitled Visual Anthropology for Quest University Canada in a remote region of India. Upon returning home he enjoyed a very successful gallery exhibit in Jackson Hole of his Everest aerial imagery as well as teaching two seminars on “the art of seeing”. Today, Thompson’s creative endeavors include two books: the first is a compilation of his Mount Everest aerials and another about the Kathmandu Valley - Kathmandu, The Way It Was. He is also presently invested in two film projects, one on Elephants of the World and the other, an Imax project, about the American icon – the cowboy.

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