Presuming that you are working exclusively with Westerners (LTR and not RTL), then the assumption would be that a user would first say, "I need to find something to view". They would look at the left-most side, where position 1 is and select among the various options (thumbnails) they have available. Then, as the center content updates to display the specific file, they would focus their attention there.
The downside to positioning the thumbnails in position 2 would be that a Westerner user would move left to right, and are less likely to notice the thumbnails in position 2 as they are on the far right. The center content will grab their attention first. You also have to consider banner blindness. Unfortunately enough banners have been placed on the right hand side of websites, that many users consciously ignore the far right side of the screen.
If you look at conventions set by web applications such as Evernote, you will see a similar pattern of the leftmost side showing notebooks, then displaying notes, and then the majority of the screen (but also the right side of the screen) is devoted to the content/note itself.
Bottom line: consider the workflow the user would do to get to the content they would be interested in and accommodate that with the appropriate positioning. For Westerners, this would be a left to right workflow within a single screen.