Desire and a plane ticket to Florianopolis, Brazil—that’s all it took for Jeremiah Thompson, a Missoula dot-com businessman and amateur photographer, to realize a life-long dream. He’s become a swimsuit photographer.
Thompson flew to Brazil in January to begin work on the “Girls of Brazil 2009 Swimsuit Calendar.” Most of his subjects weren’t professional models, but rather women in bikinis who liked having their photos snapped at sunrise or sunset, some without payment.
“It was too easy,” Thompson says. “I wasn’t paying, I wasn’t a professional photographer, I wasn’t backed by a photography studio…but just about everyone I wanted to shoot photos of agreed to have photos taken.”
Those women will now provide an unexpected service: boosting morale in Iraq and Afghanistan. Thompson recently donated 5,000 calendars to troops abroad. To top it off, a percentage of the proceeds from every calendar sale supports injured soldiers through the nonprofit Wounded Warriors Program.
“He’s really got a heart for helping people,” says Jennifer Hayes, marketing manager for Thompson’s Floripa Calendar Project.
Thompson says supporting the troops was an important move. His dad is a retired lieutenant colonel and Thompson grew up calling the military home. He’s the only man in his family who didn’t enlist.
“I guess if my dad wasn’t in the Army, I wouldn’t have been exposed to that lifestyle growing up,” Thompson says.
Hayes says the project’s philanthropic aspect has attracted positive attention. PMG International, a periodical wholesaler in San Antonio, purchased 2,000 calendars for troops abroad. And although Thompson missed the February distributor’s deadline for 2009 calendar samples, Ingram Book Group, the nation’s largest publishing distribution house, said it’s definitely interested in 2010.
Philanthropy also has its perks. Thompson spoke to the Independent by phone from Aruba last week, traveling for business with his girlfriend, whom he met while working on the calendar.
“I think anyone can do it,” Thompson says. “It’s just a matter of buying a ticket, going down there and doing it.”