Norman (Norm) Thompson has been caving since 1970 and photographing caves since 1974. He is coeditor and coauthor of On Caves and Cameras: A Comprehensive Guide to Underground Photography. His cave photos and above-ground photos have appeared in magazines, newspapers, calendars (such as Speleo Projects calendars), postcards, note cards, and many books (Lechuguilla: Jewel of the Underground, Cave Minerals of the World, Speleogenesis: Evolution of Karst Aquifers, Cave of the Winds: Then & Now, Eighth Wonder: The Story of Glenwood Caverns and the Historic Fairy Caves, etc.). His cave photography has been displayed in a number of exhibits including one at the Smithsonian's National Museum of Natural History in Washington D.C., and at Carlsbad Caverns National Park.
Martha Thompson took up caving when she met Norm Thompson about 25 years ago and has assisted him on many, many underground photo trips. They have been married for 22 years and make their home near Denver, Colorado, USA, enjoying both underground and outdoor activities such as hiking, camping, and skiing.
My cave photo career is now 44 years old. Started caving in the late 1960s in the northeastern USA, which is world famous for having many of the most miserable caves. I started making cave photos a priority in the early 1970s. In 1974 I started working on several long term caving projects across much of the eastern USA and got more serious about speleo-photography. In 1978, the first photos were made on expeditions abroad, which began deep obsessions with explorations projects and cave documentation. My photo archives currently include images from more than 2200 cave trips. These range from most of the significant cave regions of the USA to projects in 42 countries. Work in alpine regions, rainforests, deserts, tropical zones and underwater.
Cave projects continue to be ife priority. Teaching cave photo techniques to enthusiastic cavers is also very satisfying. The lists of great caves in the world continue to grow with many new finds, improved techniques and standards for documenting them. I have been honored to work in some of these great caves but for me all caves are great in some way. I hope to be making cave photos and welcome the chance to work with everyone here, sometime, someplace!
I grew up on the east coast of the U.S., near Philadelphia. Around age 8 or so, my parents began spending a small fortune on 127 film for me. I took pictures of family, pets, and the many different things one experiences on vacations. As an engineering major in college, I literally travelled to the opposite end of the campus to take courses in B&W and color photography, and made different friends as a result. I was fascinated by the technical side of photography, but even more intrigued by the artistic result. I must have been preoccupied with low-light scenes even then, because I bought a Fuji 35mm camera with the first meter display using LEDs, visible even in the dark!
In 1974, I moved to the Chicago area to work in government energy research. Through a club, I went backpacking, canoeing, rock climbing, etc., until one of the leaders said I might like caving. He was right. Two years later I was on the board of the Windy City Grotto, and then served as chairman for 4 years. I went through 3 levels of cave rescue training, concentrating on technical rigging and small party self rescue, then instructing at several national and regional seminars. I began to merge photography with caving after visiting places like the deep pits in the US and Mexico, or the caves in the Guadalupe Mountains of New Mexico. I have also been involved with exploration and mapping, most notably in Belize, Fern Cave in Alabama, and Lechuguilla Cave in New Mexico, often acting a trip leader or expedition coordinator. I was named a Fellow of the National Speleological Society in 1991.
Most of my caving in the past 2+ decades has been project-based - exploration, science, photography, or a combination. Time for all my interests is very limited, which is one reason why I rarely enter contests or shows with my photography, so far sharing mostly with friends and fellow cavers.