Charlie’s involvement with music is reflected in his photography. Among the still lifes and woodland scenes in Tompkins’ portfolio are shots of Flatt & Scruggs, Bill Monroe, John Duffey, the Country Gentlemen, and other big name Bluegrass performers captured on film at festivals and shows.
                                                       —Daphne Hutchinson

stump, Sacco River, NH circa 1974

Charlie Tompkins’ black and white photographs emanate a sense of wide-open space and of great peace and harmony regardless of their subject matter. Tompkins describes himself as “an old-time silver photographer,” and says that “straight photography” can convey the greatest emotion simply by capturing, faithfully, a moment in time.

Three themes are predominant in Tompkins’ work: water, old churches and blue grass musicians. In a series of photographs of the Rapidan River, the texture of rushing water is made to appear in a variety of forms, always inviting to the touch, such as threads of raw silk or particles of Cumulus clouds. Ammonoosuc River, Glenn, New Hampshire 1992 view 15 Patterns of light and shadow along the river reveal the openness and gentleness of the landscape while also picking up the markings on timeless rocks. The faces of the musicians are as weathered as the riverbeds yet they too shine with joy and an inner peace.

Charlie Tompkins grew up on Spring Hill Farm in Casanova, VA. He started taking photographs as a child and has continued ever since.

He has exhibited at The Smithsonian Institute (a two-man show on the making of pottery at Jugtown), The Friends of Fine Photography in Carmel CA, The Virginia Museum (Virginia Photographer’s Show), The Art Barn in Washington, DC, The Intuitive Eye Gallery (21 Critics in Search of Photographs show) in Washington DC, Fifth Street Gallery in Warrenton, VA; amongst others.

Opening the kiln Jugtown Pottery Seagrove, NC 1975