The Entrancing and Surreal Self-Portraiture of Kyle Thompson


There are selfies, and then there are self-portraits. Make no mistake, these are two very different things, in the same way that a photograph differentiates itself from a snapshot. So while the word ‘selfie’ might be in the midst of experiencing its 15 minutes of fame, it would be an injustice to call photographer Kyle Thompson‘s gripping self-portraits ‘selfies.’

Thompson, if you can believe it, is 21-years old and only got into photography at age nineteen. Plagued by anxiety his entire life, photography has become a sort of therapy, a way for him to express himself to the world… and the world seems to enjoy listening.

We’ve actually featured his work once before, but the majority of his photography actually doesn’t feature other people. The brunt of Thompson’s work consists of beautiful, striking and surreal self-portraits in which Thompson is bending reality to his will.

“I started taking self-portraits because I enjoyed going out alone,” Thompson recently told The Daily Beast. “It was easiest because I am always available and… I wanted some way to channel my emotions. I felt self-portraits were the most personal.”

His work is often set in abandoned houses or deep inside forests where he creates scenes of solitude that, on occasion, require that he set himself on fire. Here’s a look at some of our favorite shots from his portfolio:













We are certainly not the first to take notice of Thompson’s self-portrait work. When he posted it to Reddit last year, he earned himself over 3,000 upvotes and almost 2,000 comments; and his Kickstarter to raise money for a road-trip/photo book quickly raised more than twice its intended goal.

If you’d like to see more of his work, head over to his website or follow him on Flickr, Facebook or Tumblr by following the corresponding links.

(via Resource Magazine)

Image credits: Photographs by Kyle Thompson and used with permission.

  • Omar Salgado

    Get relief. Because you talk too few, turns out you really are close-minded.

    I share what you say: photos should not look as they were taken. That’s why I said I indeed like the photos of this post. But… aesthetics for the sake of aesthetics… Or you just want to deny what is in front of you?

    The photos (talking about colours) are as creative and original as the whole spiral of photography history. Gombrich said that the only limit to the production of a work of art is the medium the artist uses. So art is not free. Using Instagram-like aesthetics just proves the unity of a trend (and the limits it takes). I know you can see this, but why deny it?

    As the visual artist you are, you can embrace those limits to destroy them.

    But you’re right, I talk too much…

  • Handy Andy Pandy

    “What I’d love to see is a “surreal” photographer who is not thin, white, and young take on the same emotions/thoughts that these photographers have.”


  • Handy Andy Pandy

    Gotta agree.

  • Jen

    new to this discussion but I totally agree with what you pointed out here.

  • Peter

    He´s young, he´s world-class and he´s successful… All the people leaving negative comments here are living in a surreal world. This boy is fantastic, no one knows his story, he may had some problems, maybe, if not, then it´s ok as well. Who cares? Now he´s earning money with photography, that was his goal. He reached… I am lucky for him, he´s awesome and in the next years he´ll find new ways, new style, new expression. He did what million others would like to do. Million others can’t have… so they comment negative things. Bad and silly world… All in all, this guy is fantastic, awesome and an inspiration. He expresses only a part of photography. In that part, he´s on top.

  • UNIQ.images

    ? It’s not all photoshop. He dug that hole, he shot that fabric, he used the flower. These things come to LIFE in photoshop, but there is still a very large amount of prepwork involved…