clark thomas photographs / nashville

— About + sample links —
about at the bottom

Centennial Dog Park

Cherokee Pet Directory

Roy in the studio

Hurry Back/Elliston Place
May 2014

David Humphreys’ crew

Harriett & Duke couples test

flowers for Mary Beth

Bellet Gathering

Carolyn & Aaron’s Christening

FBMM party

Brenda’s 90th

Richland Neighbors/Lissa

Bishop party & B-Day
Dec’11 and Apr’12

Chomsky Halloween

VU Reunion ’13



Caffe Nonna Pizzeria

James’s Baptism

Greil bDay pic


ankle break

Clément, Brian, Eliza & Katherine
May 18, 2014

4 france
May 18, 2014

House in Poulx
August 2, 2014

Kingsley Lake, Florida
Hosted by CT

Ruby Blackman’s page

Harrison & David’s Halloween Bash!
Oct 26, ’14

Photography Evening Class
November ’14

Spaces & Places
4 sale or sold

Mary Beth’s Homes

Maple Shade

West Linden 2612

Sunnybrook 4320

Meadowbrook 3615

15 Middleton Circle

Acklen Avenue

Concord Road

Belmont Park Terrace

45th Ave North

80 Altentann

2310 Elliott

5620 Stanford

217 54th Ave

235 Lauderdale

4117 Crestridge

5618 Hillsboro

Birthplace Museum, Bristol TN

3612 Meadowbrook

3603 Richland

Oct 2014

Nov 2013

19th Avenue S

4513 Everett

special project: primitive artist/sculptor
E.T. Wickham: A Dream Unguarded
Featured Exhibition at the Customs House Museum
and Cultural Center, Clarksville, TN, 2001

Wickham photographs (small set)
photographs from 1973-76

Customs House Exhibition

statement, setup, & party

I’m interested in the idea that photographs, especially portraits of our fellow human beings, can capture far more information than we realize or acknowledge. I’m not saying “all” portraits capture more than we realize, I’m actually talking about a possibility. And intent. And what can happen if we set a high goal for what we intend to capture, and if we consistently strive to meet or surpass that higher standard.

Years ago I taught photography at Fisk University (1975 & ’76 under David Driskell). A favorite assignment for a photo class, was to ask each student to select a person they are close to in their life, then over one week make “ten-photo portraits” of that person, intending to capture everything they know and love about this person, within these ten separate and distinct photographs. From the moment the students realized what the assignment expected and required, they were highly focused, animated and inspired for the entire week! I didn’t need to say another word. They’d been given the excuse and ‘permission’ to focus on who and what they most valued and loved, and to reveal that in their photographs. They were surprised and excited to have such a challenging and satisfying project as their assigned course work. Their work was immediately more alive and personally meaningful, qualities often marginalized in academic learning.

Personally, I’ve never taken a class in photography. Since early high school I worked as a freelance professional, and when I considered colleges I chose to avoid schools that would “teach” me about photography, and to continue with my tried and true “learn what I need as I go” methodology. So I’m unschooled, self-taught, and learned from countless teachers and other’s influences, high and low, by experimenting, and learning a little from each, a lot from a few. Essentially, learning from living life with a camera. And what’s valuable about this way of learning, is that I’m more free to wander and explore my own thinking and responses to life and to my work. And if I had to do it all over, I’m sure I’d choose very much the same path again today.

Here lately, as part of some fresh free thinking, I’ve come to recognize that my mentally retarded sister, Lynn Thomas, who’s a year and a half older than me, was perhaps my biggest influence and most powerful teacher. Since shortly after her birth, Lynn has been severely retarded (other terms are preferred today, but my family prefers this), and I shared much of my early childhood in her close presence. My mother says before I was a year old, I clearly recognized that I was, in many ways, her guardian, and had a responsibility to watch over her. So we were very close, even though for many years she could not speak and we had no words or language. So again, before I was one, while able to sit up in a playpen, Lynn was not able to sit up, or talk. But somehow we were extremely close. We knew each other, understood each other, without any language or any words. Experiencing that, and knowing that a strong connection and deep knowing is possible outside of and beyond languaged understanding, is something I learned from Lynn, and still carry it with me these 50-60 years later. And I use this whenever I photograph a human being. This is “taught out of us” in the normal culturalization that most of us receive as we grow up. But I believe I passed through my childhood into adulthood without losing much of it, thanks to my sister Lynn Thomas.

I have a name for this which may not be accurate: Simply being. Or perhaps both words should be capitalized: Simply Being. An experience of “taking you in,” absorbing you, and openly exuding myself and my response to you. I describe it as “non-thinking being” since the absence of words and thought through sustained periods of continuous interaction, is so distinctive, rare and unusual. How unusual it is that no thinking occurs, while continued, interactive awareness and participation continues! It may be more common that I expect, but in my universe it always feels like a rare and precious surprise, and gift.

If you understood what I’m meaning by saying this, you would probably become a photographer too. With a sense of ‘presence in the moment’ the vitality of life itself can carry more “meat” than the mere ‘what we look like’ aspects of a photo. It’s the difference between capturing *how we are* as a presence, versus simply what we look like as physical objects.

At sixty-six I continue to honor childlike presence and being, and often joke that “my commitment to immaturity’s the only commitment I’ve kept in my life.” My mom’s 95 and says she’s adopted it too—a youthful sense of playfulness, humor and spark of vitality that shows few signs of slowing down. And, keeping youthful vitality alive and thriving requires real work—as it seems the entire world wants everybody to be more serious and silent.

So recently I’m reconnecting with with my early (1980s) portrait-making roots, and feeling motivated to explore and take new risks and adventures with fresh eyes. Hope to stir up a ruckus, and will be inviting others to join in.

’Posted a new site three years ago, then replaced it a year later. Now I’m considering another replacement, simplified, as time allows. I welcome comments. -Clark
about my dad
Kingsley Lake, Florida
  235 Lauderdale