I was born in 1942 and raised on a farm in Casanova, Virginia. Photography has been an interest of mine for years; by the time I was in early high school, I was already fairly knowledgeable about picture making and was working as a photographer on school newspapers and such.
Like most young men, in search of purpose, I've tried my hand at a variety of interests, but I have always returned to photography and music. After college I freelanced a variety of jobs in the DC area …public relations, some advertising and some commercial work.
In 1969, I opened the Icon Gallery in partnership with Mark Power. “It was the first gallery in the city devoted to the exhibition of photography as a serious art form.” We exhibited several up & coming DC photographers of the day, Allen Appel, Harold Grandy, Ken Wyner, Earl Dotter, Neil Maurer, Jim Nichols and Fred Day, amongst others. The gallery folded in 1971.
Artistically, I was immersed in the street & reportage so prevalent then in urban areas, especially in the east. In 1969, still looking for artistic direction,, when I fortuitously wound up at Ansel Adams Yosemite Workshop. My interest in photography was immediately rekindled and inspired by exposure to people whose concerns were clarity and conciseness and craft in their imagery.

Adams has had an obvious impact on my work; others that have influenced me are: Walker Evans, Edward Weston, Mark Power, Ross Chapple, and Woody Guthrie.

Photographically, I maintain a strong proponent of “Silver” Imagery. A handmade silver print is a thing of great beauty and it is like a little window of time. When we look into that window we can see what a small slice of the photographer’s“reality” looked like at a given instant, frozen in metallic silver.

A digital image does not usually convey that magic moment as well, because of the suspicion (or probability) of the high level of manipulation that can be seamlessly applied to the image.

I make my own silver prints and I do some digital work as well. My portfolio has been shaped by love of the out-of-doors and white water canoeing and music. My interest in unamplified string music has led me to blend my two passions, as I began taking images in the late 60’s of the various Bluegrass and stringed instrument artists that I admired and followed.

"Life is like a mountain railway, with an engineer so brave, we must make each run successful, from the cradle to the grave." These words from a favorite country hymn say a lot about the way the world appears to me, that is, something of a journey. Photography is, to me, a means of recording, using one’s eyes, some of one’s pilgrimage.

Charles Tompkins Studio and Gallery
485 Warren Avenue, Washington VA. 22747

Gallery Phone:  540-229-9363  

Charles Tompkins Photography Studio and Art Gallery- was established in Rappahannock County, Virginia in 1997 by artist, photographer and musician Charles “Charlie” Tompkins. For decades Charlie has captured and preserved moments of time through traditional, larger format silver imagery.  His vast collection of black and white, and silver prints illustrate his immense passion for life and include themes of Rushing Water, Mountain Scapes, Places of Interest, Portraiture and traditional String Musicians.  From the Appalachian Mountains of North Carolina, the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia and the White Mountains of New Hampshire.

Open for Scheduled Events and By Appointment Only.   
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