Lily Estella Thompson

Lily Estella Thompson is a photojournalist based in the southeastern United States. A small town native, Lily moved from rural southern Indiana to Kentucky in 2017 and fell in love with the South. Compelled by the complexities and nuances of the region, Lily is passionate about exploring and sharing the intimate details and stories of the human experience across all walks of life. 

Lily graduated from Western Kentucky University with degrees in photojournalism and political science. Through her studies, she learned and practiced how to utilize visual storytelling as a way to learn about the world, other people and herself.  From being with a home-birth midwife to a family of refugees to rodeo cowboys, Lily has seen and experienced the power of connecting people through storytelling.  

Lily has been recognized by Hearst, College Photographer of the Year, the Kentucky News Photographers Association, and the Associated Collegiate Press. She interned with the Center for Gifted Studies and the World Council for Gifted and Talented Children, two nonprofits focused on gifted education both nationally and internationally. In addition, Lily’s personal work on the COVID-19 pandemic was featured in the South X Southeast gallery “Love, Loss, and Resilience” in 2020.

She has attended the Mountain Workshops four times, once as a Labbie (1, 2, 3...labbie love!), twice as a photojournalism participant and once virtually. During her time at WKU, she worked for three and a half years with the Talisman magazine and website as a photographer and photo editor.  

Her commercial work includes camera operating, light directing, and editing for a local video production company, product photography and videography for a multi-million dollar online boutique and dozens of weddings, graduations, birthday parties and events. 

Currently, Lily is a 2021 recipient of the Reinke Grant for Visual Storytelling through Boyd’s Station Project, where she is spending the summer documenting Harrison County, Ky. for Project 306.36.  As of July 2021, she is also an associate member of American Reportage. After her fellowship, she hopes to travel throughout the South following stories with her camera and pen. 

When she’s not taking pictures, you can find Lily working in the garden or with her houseplants, cooking one of her favorite recipes, or playing pool in her basement with a couple of her best friends. She has two cats named after metal artists and a dog that sheds way too much.  

Photo by James Year


Open to endeavors, collaborations and adventures. Or you can just say hi. 

Lily Estella Thompson

812 . 653 . 4239

lilyestella.photog @


Click here to see a copy of my current resume.

Check out my Instagram linked below.

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