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An explorative approach

09 Mar 2017

An explorative approach Image

Having spent his whole life constantly learning, fourth year Photography Studies College (PSC) student Michael Thompson is using his study as a chance to keep absorbing everything in his path.

With qualifications in botany and microbiology, computer science and mandarin, Michael’s last role prior to life at PSC was working for the Department of Defence for 20 years.

“I spent most of my life in science working for the government in science-IT areas and the other side of my brain never got used so I thought I’d do something different,” he said.

“I’ve always taken photos but it’s sort of a bigger challenge for me because I find the artistic stuff more difficult with thinking outside the box.”

For someone who enjoys learning so much, it comes as no surprise that Michael is extremely well travelled, which is where he said his interest in photography originally manifested.

While he said he had enjoyed learning some of the more creative aspects to photography, he had decided to major in photojournalism to complement his love for travel, people and culture.

“I like it all. That’s my problem I can’t focus easily on one thing because I’m enjoying all of it,” he said.

“Instead of doing art or commercial I’ve gone with photojournalism because I kind of like the street photography side, it sort of suits my love of travel.”

Since beginning life at PSC, Michael also runs an exhibition space in Ivanhoe called UpstArts, which he established in order to provide emerging photographers from PSC and abroad with a place to showcase their work.

He has also used the space to feature some of his own work, some of which recently featured in an exhibition Five Perspectives, which focused on the theme of identity.

His two series that featured in the exhibition, Melbourne Cup and Jumping, playfully explored this theme by exposing the glamour and self-absorption of a public event, while revealing the chaotic, kinesthetic joy in people in the other.

“For Jumping I got all the people one night who had had a drink to go upstairs and jump in the air in front a grey background and just caught them jumping,” he said.

“They’re all up in the gallery at the moment and they all loved that it was just a lot of fun.”

He described PSC as a very friendly learning environment, which felt like a place “where you feel like you can come over for dinner.”

And true to his philosophy that one never stops learning, he said he hoped to use his skills in photography in the future to help others in a mentoring capacity.

“I’d like to assist people in the future. Potentially just someone whose work I like, just help them out and get paid but I want to start off like the old apprentice I think,” he said.

“There’s a lot to learn. The more I learn the more there is to learn. I admire the quality of the students’ work it’s really good.”

For more information on the UpstArts Gallery visit

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