Scrolling through John Philp Thompson III’s Instagram feed is like being transported into a technicolor dream world filled with exotic locations, the latest menswear fashions and an endless assortment of picture-perfect moments.
It’s no wonder 65K followers tune in to see where he is, what he’s wearing and how he’s capturing each adventure. Read on to check out our interview with the photographer, blogger and globetrotter.
Living Spaces: You possess an incredibly long list of talents and passions. What made you decide to combine them all (travel, photography, modeling, fitness) rather than completely devoting yourself to one?
John Philp Thompson III: When it comes to my job, I wear several different hats. I’m a photographer and a model who runs a menswear and travel blog. I also have a background in PR, marketing and branding.
My response to “What do you do for work?” depends on the day. After college, I didn’t have an inkling that I’d be doing anything close to what I’m doing now. Although, I always knew I wanted to do something different.
My line of work has evolved a lot over the past few years, and each hat I wear seems to lend itself to the next.
Living Spaces: What do you enjoy most about your career, and how has that fueled your success?
JPT: I get to constantly create and strive to never become complacent. While I was at my 9-5 job, I took a step back and realized how much I was consuming: media, food, material things, and it nearly made me sick.
When I discovered the scales of consuming and creating were off-balance for me, I knew I needed to lean into my passions to feel truly fulfilled. Ever since then, I’ve aimed to achieve that balance.
A major source of inspiration and learning for me has been connecting and collaborating with other creatives. It is the most rewarding aspect of what I get to do, and it’s helped me see that you never cease to be a student in this life.
Living Spaces: You travel a lot now, but was there a time when you were hesitant to meet new people and try different things?
JPT: My relationship with travel actually began at a young age, as my family vacationed quite a bit growing up. As I get older, I realize how fortunate I’ve been to see and experience so many interesting places.
Travel can wear on you, though, especially in today’s climate, and I would advise not to let logistics or fears deter you. The chance to visit a new city and experience a new culture will always outweigh the inconveniences or anxieties. It’s so cliché, but I believe, “travel is the only thing you can buy that makes you richer.”
Living Spaces: What are some of your favorite places to visit and why?
JPT: Although New York and Los Angles are at two different ends of the spectrum, I feel at home in both cities. Cape Town has probably had the greatest impact on me. It reminds me of the California coast. Cape Town is young and active, and it has gorgeous beaches, Table Mountain and hours of winelands.
Living Spaces: What advice do you have for anyone traveling solo?
JPT: If you ever find yourself traveling alone, seize the opportunity to really dig into the city you’re staying in. Be friendly and start conversations. Ask your servers for tips and find out about their favorite things to do or see in that city. Stay at a hostel, so you can meet other travelers. Be adventurous and try new foods you wouldn’t order at home.
Living Spaces: When did you begin pursuing a career as a photographer?
JPT: I was interested in photography at a young age, although I never thought it would become my career.
I had a few cameras growing up, and after I graduated college, I purchased my first DSLR camera as a pat on the back. When I moved to Chicago, I forced myself to explore and photograph the city, and I met talented photographers (now friends!) along the way.
Living Spaces: Are you the type of person who will stop in the middle of a street in order to snap a great photo?
JPT: I have definitely stopped in the middle of the street to capture a shot, and I’ve been ‘that guy’ in the restaurant standing on his chair to get a picture of my food on more than one occasion. Chicago is a very photogenic city and there are so many different sides to show. Some of my favorite places to shoot are in my neighborhood (Old Town), at North Avenue Beach and The Loop for a more urban vibe.
Living Spaces: On those rare occasions when you aren’t traveling, what do you enjoy doing in Chicago?
JPT: When I’m staying put, I really value my time with my friends. Chicago is such a livable place that offers all the pros of big city living with Midwest charm. In the summer, I love to run along Lake Shore Trail, visit my local farmer’s market, head to North Avenue Beach, find a good patio for drinks with friends, and try new restaurants.
Living Spaces: Is there a relationship between your personal style and how you style your living space?
JPT: I’d like to think that my personal style spills over into my home, and it is all somewhat a reflection of me. I tend to be drawn to solids and earth tones, and I’ll add pops of color here and there while keeping things simple. My taste has evolved since I moved to Chicago five years ago, so my apartment is in need of a revamp.
Even though my aesthetic aspirations are shifting slightly, some of my must-haves remain: comfort, simplicity and thoughtful design.
There’s more where this eye candy came from! Follow John at@johnphilp3