Tom Thompson

Tom Thompson, pictured holding his granddaughter next to a Christmas tree
Photo by Jonah Holland

Veterinarians, veterinary technicians, hospital admissions staff, researchers, and students – these are all people that typically come to mind when you think of personnel at Mississippi State University’s College of Veterinary Medicine.

However, behind the scenes, documenting the workday of these individuals and day-to-day happenings at the college is Coordinator of Photographic Services Tom Thompson. The Covington, Louisiana, native has served MSU CVM in this role since 1994.

“The diversity of veterinary medicine keeps things interesting, and the photographic needs change from day to day,” Thompson said. “I enjoy photographing and taking videos of the interesting things that happen here. I get to see all kinds of animals, and science has always piqued my interest.”

Thompson’s interest in photography began when his parents bought him a 35mm camera for his high school graduation. His first photographs were of the dog next door, and he fell in love with photography from there.

Before moving to Starkville, Thompson served as a medical photographer at the Texas Heart Institute in Houston, Texas, for five years. While he loved his experiences in Texas, he knew that he wanted to settle his family in a smaller town, and MSU CVM and Starkville fit that bill.

The move to Starkville and MSU CVM was perfect for Thompson and his family, and in the nearly 30 years since, his children still hold memories of their visits to “dad’s workplace” close to their hearts.

“Some of my fondest memories are giving all of my children tours of CVM during their childhood; all of them experienced CVM’s Open House at some point,” Thompson said. “I remember the excitement on their faces when they saw, held, or petted some of the unusual animals, and my children all still talk about the baby bobcat visit. Now, I have the pleasure of giving my grandkids tours and taking them to Open House.”

Of course, Thompson’s job isn’t all puppies and (bobcat) kittens. As the CVM’s only photographer, his job varies widely from one day to the next.

“I could be photographing some medical technique or procedure in the clinic, or goings on of students, faculty, clients and patients, or taking portraits of any of the 600-plus faculty, staff, students, grad students and house officers. It’s much more than just snapping a photo; however, there are times that I must shoot things quickly for social media purposes,” Thompson said. “I really love the variety of needs at the vet school and being able to help others with something that I enjoy doing.”

As the year ends, Thompson is looking forward to spending some time with his family.

“Family is really important to me,” he said. “I have four grandchildren and love to visit with them. The holidays are a great time to catch up with my large, close family and recharge for the next year.”