Pensacola Magazine January 2017

Page 36

While the Florida native has been a photographer for most of his life, hosted dozens of exhibitions, contributed to magazine articles and been featured on NPR, Thompson originally planned to pursue a career in biology education. Eventually, his curiosity lured him toward a darkroom. “I had my degree as a biology major and was teaching as a student,” Warren said. “I went back to college for one more semester and I got a job in the science lab where they also had a darkroom. I had the keys to the building, and a guy told me how to mix the chemicals, and from then on I just played around with it." He returned to Pensacola to teach biology 36 | pensacola magazine

and science at Pensacola State (then Junior) College—but he kept pursuing photography until it became his main focus. “I still enjoy natural science and all, but the photography just took over,” he said. Thompson went back to school at the Rochester Institute for Technology for a few semesters and then came back to Florida State University, where he earned an MFA in photography. From then on, the deal was sealed. “I taught science for a little while but then when the photography opening became available, I just jumped on it,” he said. “I retired after 40 years of teaching at PSC,

and I guess about 33 to 34 were teaching photography.” Pensacola State College’s photography program is renowned for producing talented and passionate photographers, and according to Thompson, the school has a few advantages many junior colleges don’t. “The art department is really strong and they have commercial division that will give you working skills and employment potential,” he noted. “A lot of students can go there and they can get those fine art skills, but they can also get practical art skills that will help them in finding a job.” Thompson is largely credited with