“One photo a day”: Budding photographer finds living in surrealism

Welcome to our second episode of The Weekly Flickr, a new series by Yahoo! Studios that will showcase the work of members straight from the Flickr community. This week we peek into the life of a young man who found a career in photography, and only months after he got started.

Kyle Thompson, 20, barely knew how to use a camera just over a year ago when he first started taking photos. But he has come a long way since embarking on his 365 project, in which he pledged to upload a new photo to Flickr every day for a year.

He has less than 50 days left to go with his 365 and has already begun working as a freelance photographer.

“I decided to do a 365 project because I saw so many people who had done them and improved so much,” says Kyle who lives just outside of Chicago, IL and describes his work at surrealist photography. “I thought that if I did this, I could not only learn how to use my camera but maybe even become good at it.”

For all intents and purposes, he’s achieved that goal. His social following has grown from nothing to more than 40,000 people across three different networks, and he’s even starting to make money selling his photography online.


“Before I started doing photography full-time, I was delivering pizzas,” Kyle says. “I make as much money as I was delivering pizzas now, maybe even more.”

He started taking photos just over a year ago after a friend and he discovered the photos of Franchesca Woodman, who was a photographer in the 1980s.

“I thought they were really cool and I had never seen photos that moved me so much,” he says. “Eventually I decided to buy my own camera and since I didn’t really have anyone to take photos of, I bought a tripod and started taking self portraits and I kind of developed myself from there.”

Fragile Wings

“I think the cloth-winged photo is probably one of my favorites because I did it early in my 365 and it was one of the photos that I really liked,” he says. “It still is one of my favorite photos. I think it looks like it is out of an old storybook. I used to be really into fairytales when I was a kid.”

Like the clothed-winged photo, many of Kyle’s photos are left unnamed.

“I like leaving photos untitled because it gives people the ability to give it their own concept,” he says. “I like my photos to be open to interpretation so people can see them how they want to.”

This is his most popular photo, showing him drenched in a river looking downwards as he is surrounded by red balloons.

“The concept was pretty simple. I just wanted to juxtapose the red balloons which are kind of childlike and have a suit which is more business like and have them together in a surreal element like water where you wouldn’t expect the two to be,” he says.

Many of his photos are taken outdoors in a forested area not far from his home.

“I kind of like taking photos in forests and ponds, just someplace that is relatable and that you can see anywhere,” says Kyle.

“The amount of post production I do, depends on the photo,” he explains. “About half of my stuff has very little editing and about half has a lot of editing.”

In addition to quitting his job as a pizza delivery boy, Kyle has dropped out of school.

“I really wanted to pursue photography and I didn’t know if going to school made as much sense as I was teaching myself by working for hours every day,” he says. “I was starting to make some money with it and it was something I really loved to do.”

November saw Kyle’s newfound photography sales at their highest.

“Selling prints goes up and down, but last month was my best month and I sold around 50 prints,” he says.

Kyle says Flickr has been instrumental in his growth as a photographer. In the future he sees himself making a living as a professional creating much of what he’s doing now, but on a much bigger scale.

“My advice for other photographers is to just keep shooting photos every day,” he says. “I think that’s why the 365 project works so well, because if you are taking photos every day you are going to keep on improving and learning new things.”

View Kyle Thompson’s photostream

If you missed last week’s episode of The Weekly Flickr, where we interviewed a photographer documenting Hurricane Sandy’s aftermath, make sure to catch it here.

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