May 26, 2018

THE HUB: ‘Simplicity is beauty’

Williston teen launches photography business

Dec. 15, 2011

By Luke Baynes

Observer staff


High school sophomore Eli Thurston (above) started his own photography business in September. The Williston-based Thurston Photography offers a wide range of services, including family portraits, baby photos and senior class pictures. (Courtesy photo)

“In photography, the smallest thing can be a great subject. The little human detail can become a leitmotif,” French photographer Henri Cartier-Bresson wrote in the 1952 book, “The Decisive Moment.”

Fifteen-year-old Williston photographer Eli Thurston is at a young age seeking great subjects in little human details, eschewing outdoor landscape photography for the landscapes of the human face.

“I definitely like taking pictures of people more than landscapes,” said Thurston, a homeschooled high school sophomore. “(With) people you get so many expressions, and a story almost.”

Thurston’s newly founded photography business, simply called Thurston Photography, takes as its slogan: “Simplicity is beauty.”

It’s a phrase that applies to his photography aesthetic. Although he has a studio in his home, he prefers shooting his subjects in natural light, believing they behave more naturally.

“It’s definitely more restricted in the studio than outdoors,” Thurston said. “In a studio, it’s more like a strict pose.”

Thurston got his first camera when he was 10 and honed his chops by using his brother and sister as models.

“They probably hated it,” he acknowledged, “but it helped.”

It wasn’t until a friend and aspiring model requested that he photograph her that Thurston considered starting his own business.

“I had taken pictures of her at camp,” he recalled, “and then when I got home I put some on Facebook. People were really impressed and said I should start my own photography business, so a week afterward I decided to and from then it has sort of just taken off.”

Thurston added that Facebook has been vital to his self-promotion campaign.

“For advertising, Facebook has been amazing,” he said. “I’m very persistent. I don’t really charge my friends, but I ask them to share (photos on Facebook).”

Thurston has never taken a formal photography class; instead, he learns by trial and error.

“Some of the poses when you’re actually doing them feel very strange and awkward, and then in the picture it turns out awesome, so it’s a lot of experimenting with poses,” he said.

Thurston’s services range from family portraits to baby photos and senior class pictures. He averages two photo shoots a week — a work schedule he credits to his status as a homeschooler.

“I think homeschooling gives you more creativity and flexibility,” Thurston said. “I can do a lot more than I would in public school.”

Still, he isn’t satisfied with his current photographic offerings and hopes to expand into other services, such as wedding photography.

“I’m trying to broaden my horizons,” he said. “It’s a work in progress.”

For more information about Thurston Photography, including rates, visit

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