An Eye for Photography Enriches the Local Community

USPS custodian Herb Thompson has a keen eye for photography.

USPS custodian Herb Thompson has a keen eye for photography.

In the 17 years that Herb Thompson has worked as a custodian in the Central Plains District, he has completed two Associate degrees in photography through the local community college and has completed half a dozen public exhibitions of his work. His position has given him the opportunity to meet many interesting and influential individuals in the Postal Service.

“I just love the folks there,” said Thompson. “Rick Pivovar, always on a mission, is one of my favorite people to pass in the hallways.”

Thompson credits his ability to enjoy his favorite activity, photography, to his employment at the Postal Service.

“The Postal service has been a kind of personal patron of the arts for me over the years – making it possible for me to accomplish some of my artistic goals,” he said.

Thompson’s has presented most of his public photo exhibitions during February Black History month beginning in 1999.

“I think my wife finally got tired of hearing me talk about my dreams, and really pushed me (sorry, encouraged me) to step out that first year.”

As a result, the local City Hall sponsored his work, suggesting a lineup of local African-American leaders for him to photograph including notables such as City Councilmen Fred Conley, Brenda Council, Bertha Calloway, Preston Love, and others. Since that time, he has received funding from the Nebraska Arts Council, Union Pacific, the Urban League of Nebraska, and ConAgra in support of his work.

Using a medium format camera and very basic setup, Thompson visited many individuals with diverse backgrounds over the years, including an original Tuskegee Airman, doctors, lawyers, a mortician, musicians, ministers, athletes, actors, a presidential candidate, as well as everyday people. In 2001, he created an exhibit of centenarians and another black and white show entitled “The Hands of African Americans” the following year. Additionally, he is a house photographer for Omaha Fashion Week, serves on the Papillion Board of Adjustment and is a member of the Board of Trustees for the Rose Performing Arts Theater.

Currently, Thompson has on display a collection of 16 black and white portraits of African-American couples who have been married 40 years or more.

“The interesting thing about this show,” Thompson said, “is the fact that it was originally shown 13 years ago in downtown Omaha. I thought it might be nice for the community to revisit these wonderful couples again.

“I’d like to express my deepest appreciation to my employer for making so much of this possible. Thank you.”

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2 Comments

  1. Grannybunny

     /  February 28, 2014

    Great story. It’s good to hear about one of our many talented and creative Postal employees and gratifying that USPS and the community at large have supported his efforts.

  2. Jonn

     /  February 28, 2014

    Awesome job, Herb! I hope your work is an inspiration to others and encourages them to pursue their passions too.

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