Artist of the Month - Connor S. Thompson

I am a young adult with autism spectrum disorder and intellectual disability. I attend an arts related day program in western, MA where I study piano, voice, ukulele, and recently photography. I enjoy taking pictures of the natural world. During the pandemic when the whole world was shut down, I discovered that photographing birds and wildlife was very a very relaxing way to get fresh air, exercise, AND make art. I've learned so much about different animal and bird species and their behaviors. Capturing beautiful images of wildlife is very satisfying.

To get to know Connor, we asked him a few questions about his art

What is art for you? 

For me, art is creating beautiful images that capture the beauty of nature with my digital camera. Photographing a bird in flight, or a chance encounter with a deer in the woods is a very authentic and honest art form. As a person with autism, I am a very concrete thinker, and the camera allows me to create art that is very literal. I'm not much of a conceptual, abstract thinker, so photography is the perfect medium for me.

What are you currently working on?

I'm constantly outdoors, looking for birds and wildlife. This summer I spent quite a lot of time on Cape Cod, searching for shore birds and osprey.

What’s your background? What is the experience that has influenced your work the most?

I started out taking a photography class in my day program for adults with disabilities. I immediately clicked with the camera! I experimented with close-up macro photography, and then, after falling in love with bird and wildlife photography during Covid-19, invested in a 600mm lens that helps capture the beauty of these creatures without stressing them out.

Where do you find your inspiration?

Outdoors in nature, and by looking at the work of other photographers.

What is your creative process?

Shoot, shoot, shoot! When I find an interesting bird or animal, I have to strategize what angles I can shoot it from without scaring it away. Once I'm confident I can get a few shots of it, I try different angles and vantage points as well.

Did your style change over the years? In which way?

I love getting close ups of birds and animals when possible, but I'm now also experimenting with capturing more of the total habitat and landscape of where I find the birds and wildlife. I also enjoy when my pictures can tell a story about the subject, whether it's an osprey building a nest or a heron catching a fish.

What is the most challenging part about creating your artworks?

The most challenging part about creating my artwork is not being able to control what I'm going to find with my camera. I might set off looking for hawks, and might see Great Blue Heron instead. I've learned to photograph what's in front of me, rather than being upset by what I didn't see.

 Thank you Connor!