Category Archives Guest Blogger

Having It All!

How can I have it all? Well, you must first determine what "all" is! For many of us, as photographers, we want to be successful! But then again, what is success? The first thing that comes to mind is fame and fortune; you are well known and respected as photographer, and you make boat loads of money with your images! Please allow me to pull rank on you. At 66 years of age, I've learned a great deal about these questions, and more importantly, the answers! Let me share some thoughts with you.

Let's start with fame. I hate to burst your bubble, but there are no famous photographers. Now I didn't say that some photographers are not well known, some certainly are, but mostly among other photographers. It's what is called positional fame. If you were an auto mechanic who has been named America's Top Mechanic three of the last four years, you certainly would be well known among mechanics, just not to the general public! It is the same for us, we may reach a measure of recognition among our peers, but the general public has no idea who we are. Elvis was famous, the Beatles are famous, Brad Pitt is famous. As photographers we can never hope to get that kind of attention, and I say great! Would you really want to wear a disguise to go out to dinner to keep from being recognized and hounded by the paparazzi? I bet you're saying no!

O.K. so we have settled the fame business, how about fortune? Well if you find a way to become incredibly wealthy being a photographer, let me know!! Can you make a good living as a photographer? Sure, but only a handful of photographers have ever gone on to become millionaires on the strength of their work. So it would seem that both of those are goals not worthy of our time and effort. That leaves us with the task of redefining success.

Let me share with you my definition of success:
"To love and be loved, to have a purpose, goals, and aspirations that lead to a better life for those around me. To laugh a lot, smile even more, and enjoy the greatest gifts God has given me; faith, fellowship, peace, and joy!"

In the summer of 2012 I find myself smack dab in the middle of that definition. As I prepare to retire from my full time job, I'm starting another stage in my life, that of being a full time, servant of Christ! What does this have to do with photography!?

Photography is my vocation and avocation, and I love to share it. I love to teach and fellowship with others that have a love for this craft. I also have given my life completely to Jesus Christ, and my service to Him is to love others as He loves them!

I'm so excited because the rest of my life will be dedicated to sharing these two great passions with those that will allow me to be a part of their lives. Now I've actually been doing that for a long time, but with a new workshop company I've started, it will have an official home. A couple of years ago I started a company called His Light Workshops, and soon after took on a great friend, and wonderful photographer, Jim Begley as my partner in the venture. Jim is not only a world class photographer specializing in HDR, he's also a great Christian brother with the same goals as mine, to reach out in His name.

His Light Workshops will be a place where people who want to learn how to become a better photographers, can do so, in a faith based environment. I've run photography workshops for many years, eleven of those years as the director and founder of the Great American Photography Workshops. I'm very proud to say that the GAPW had one of the highest approval ratings from our customers of all the workshop series of it's time. The formula was simple, give people great instruction, from gifted leaders, in beautiful locations, have a lot of fun, and make the workshops a great value!

His Light starts where the GAPW ended, except we now have added the most important component, sharing Christ's love!  We've now run workshops in a half dozen locations and the big difference is not only do we get calls and emails from our Guests thanking us for a great learning experience, we also get a lot of messages that say, "It was a life changing experience!" That has been Jim's and my goal from the start and with each new workshop, more and more people are finding not only increased photographic skills but also a stronger, deeper, and more meaningful purpose for their lives.

We've been joined by such great photographers and leaders as Scott Kelby, Matt Kloskowski, and RC Concepcion. Many other wonderful photographers will be joining us in the future to share their vast knowledge and faith. Next year, Dr. Charles Stanley, well known pastor of the First Baptist Church of Atlanta, will join us for a fall workshop, and Country/Bluegrass Legend, and 14 times Grammy Winner, Ricky Skaggs will be our guest leader when we do a His Light Americana Workshop in Nashville, Tennessee! I'm so excited because we've met so many great people at our workshops and many have become fantastic friends, and new brothers and sisters!

For the eleven years I headed up the GAPW, I drove over 70,000 miles a year to every major national park, many, more than once per year. It has made it so easy to plan and run these great new workshops after such a wealth of experience around the national park system. What a blessing that has been!

The next workshop will be in Page, Arizona and will feature RC Concepcion as our leader!  RC will teach on social media for photographers, how to create stunning websites, (he created mine!) and will also teach from his great book on HDR! He will be joined by myself, Jim Begley and our field team, John "Snake" Barrett and Chuck Barnes. We will shoot in such great locations as Lower Antelope Slot Canyon, Horseshow Bend, Toadstool Rocks,Paria Wilderness area and other great locations around the beautiful Lake Powell and  Escalante Basin. We'll also have a dinner at the famous Paria Wilderness BBQ camp! Limited space is still available for this workshop November 7-11. It will be preceded with a optional 4 day whirlwind tour of  Monument Valley (full day with Navajo guides), Lower Antelope Slot Canyon, Bryce Canyon National Park and Zion National Park! *Very limited space still available in the tour.

So back to where we started, I've got it all!  God has provided a wonderful way for me to help support my family, have a blast in the company of great people, learn daily to be a better photographer, and more importantly to deepen my walk with Him!  You can have the fame and fortune,  He has made me a very wealthy man already!

Bill Fortney

For more information about His Light Workshops and Bill Fortney please visit and

I’d love to start by saying thanks to Scott and Brad for the opportunity to share. Its quite an honor to be in the midst of such great people on this blog,but also a great challenge because so many great things have already been said here!

I never planned on being a photographer. I never went to school for photography and never really spent much time assisting. Its still sometimes shocking to me that this is where I ended up. I grew up with a heavy fine art background so it was not rare to see my brother and I spending time on the weekends or after school, painting, drawing or creating. In college, I majored in painting and honestly had no clue where it would lead me career wiseâ¦. but I loved it. I was obsessed with art. The culture, the history, the respect. It wasn’t until my senior year studying that I stumbled across photography.

Out of college I got a job at a great design firm in Orange County. It was a new world to say the least. I approached ‘digital art’ in a very primitive way, letting my technological skills catch up to what I saw in my head and wanted to create. It was very foreign to me but I enjoyed the challenge and the pace. I picked up photography simply to aid in my design work. Doing what most do when they begin, I shot textures, abstractions and various macro types. After my time at the design firm I was submerged in a world of art meeting commerce. I fell in love with the idea that an image could be beautiful and help attract towards something⦠a brand or a statement. It was powerful and at that point I knew what I wanted to spend my time creating. The rest has been a wild ride.

I’ll keep it short and sweet but I wanted to spend the few moments talking about being an artist. I figure most people reading this are in the industry or wanting to break into it, so this is geared to all of us. There is no doubt that this industry is incredibly hard to break into and if you don’t keep creating, you will disappear in a sea of heavy competition. I know for some of us its daunting to think about. What I charge you with today is to be an artist. I know that seems silly but I hear too many people jump into this industry for the wrong reasons and spend their time focusing on the wrong things. My buddy Nick Onken has always said this so well. You have to “live your passion”. As working artists or some that hope to be making a living creating, we have to be obsessed with the art. You have to find what ‘fills’ you as an artist and fight to keep that. I do this in a few ways.

Coming from a painting background, I have spent a lot of time with 3 elements: Tone, Form and Light.

These are things that painters and photographers have in common and they are worth getting obsessed about. I often get questions about post production and editing and I wish I had fancy answers for everyone, but I simply use inspiration that is out of the photography world. This is a fun exercise and I encourage you all to try it.

For example, I was shooting a recent fashion story and was so inspired by the pigments of a recent Edgar Payne exhibit, that I found myself toning my images as if they were his paintings. Did the skies need more yellow? Did the skin tones need more greens? Is my lighting carving out the shadows enough?  These questions only came about because I was inspired by those simple things: Tone, Form and Light. I spend a lot of time and energy studying art because I think it makes a difference in my work. If we aren’t fighting for that creative ‘fill’ I have a hard time believing our work will be competitive enough in this industry. It takes that obsession I was mentioning. I want to encourage you to take an art history class or a painting class. You will be surprised how it affects your photography.

The last few years have been really fun. I work primarily in fashion and advertising so its always scratching that itch I have for where art and commerce meet. I am continually trying new lighting techniques, creating new personal work and learning the business of a modern day photographer. Thanks for reading⦠go create.

You can see more of Trever’s work at, keep up with him on his blog, and follow him on Twitter.

An Introduction
Let’s get formalities out of the way because I want to talk about things bigger than me when given a Scott Kelby Soapbox.  My name is Sam Spratt and I am a 23 year-old illustrator who focuses on realism. I’ve had the pleasure of making paintings for a mess of major publications, websites, celebrities, corporations, and oddly enough, even a few photographers (the profession which brought about the decline of illustration) such as David Hobby, Joe McNally, Lara Jade, and my good friend, that guy who did the Twilight poster. To watch some examples of how I sketch, render, and paint things, you can follow this link. Obligatory preamble complete. Now let’s move on.

The New Old
I am a knowing hypocrite. I roll my eyes at the Instagram-ification of photography - slapping vintage filters on digital photographs to make them appear old and organic. I loathe the skeuomorphic interfaces in Apple’s user-experience design - digital leather-trimmed calendar apps, paper textured digital notepads, and synthetic camera click sounds trying to make something "classical" which should be as clean and minimal as the aluminum hardware it rests in. Yet… I’m a painter of the digital variety, who has built a career off of translating techniques and concepts learned through Baroque-era oil painting courses into a modern medium. Pixels have replaced pigment for me, but they’re pushed around just the same.

Maybe it’s not as simple as swiping through some preset effects and slapping filters on filters over my every meal with a button press, but the core idea is the same: art and technology are converging into a Kurzweil-esque singularity and we look over our shoulders to build something on top of what came before it.

New mediums don’t always replace the old ones. Anyone who has ever used Photoshop knows that the tools aren’t the manifestations of mere synthetic coding robots, they’re explicitly modeled for usability after old-medium artistic techniques and workflows.

With every new iteration, software simultaneously distances itself from where it came from with new capabilities, as well as shifts the entry-point to older techniques, making them even more accessible. There will be a point in the not too distant future, when cameras pick up anything we can see and anything we don’t — ISO, megapixel, aperture, and shutterspeed will be irrelevant buzzwords. The boom of point-and-shoot, iPhone photography has already made them feel like dusty terminology.  Eventually, painting, as outlandish as it may sound, will be dictated by what we think and imagine rather than what we can physically execute. We’re moving more and more towards a world where the ground floor to creating great artwork is being lowered through technology, and every facet of life is manipulated and designed.  Even chest hair.

It’s amazing how frightened artists can be of their "fields" converging with technology. People lambasted the latest Final Cut Pro video editing software for "dumbing down pro features," but more so - it was threatening. It enabled mere rookies to access very intuitive and easy-to-use controls and to execute things which would have been incredibly complicated mere years ago. We have hipsters who call themselves "purists" for everything. I am a painter who uses a Wacom stylus. A person who digitally paints with only a mouse looks down on the stylus because it’s "easier." People who do any digital painting are looked down on by digital photographers who are looked down on by manual photographers who are looked down on by traditional painters who are looked down on by writers, who are looked down on by writers with typewriters who are looked down on by writers with pens who are looked down on by writers with feathers and ink, all of whom are looked down on by street artists because everything sucks if it doesn’t have an obvious political message and is plastered over a public wall.  All of whom, of course, are looked down on by commercial artists.

It’s not that technology gets rid of previous mediums, it builds upon them, and I think it’s incredibly important that this continues because "art" has just about the loosest definition of any word. We literally live in a world where our own blood and excrement can belong in a museum if it’s wrapped in a sound bite explaining its purported depth and profundity.  Without new tools and techniques driving creativity in new generations, we will continue to just point to anything and declare it as high art.

When I paint digitally, I am granted an enormous amount of control. CTRL+Z can wipe away my mistakes, thousands of settings, sliders, rulers, guides, layers, and paths can assist in my ability to manipulate the medium. However, despite the thousands of tools available, I limit myself to only a few, simply because those are the ones that express my techniques and education in traditional painting. The only times I hit "undo" is when I smack my entire face into my keyboard from looking at YouTube comments, everything else I consider to be mistakes worth working over. It builds character (as every dad ever would say). I’m not trying to make my life harder by limiting myself.  After all, the difficulty of your medium doesn’t elevate it.  But I believe that as art and technology get all up inside one another, it’s important to be wary of the visual gimmick babies which rise up along the way.

3D, HDR, Tilt-shift, multiple-exposure, lens flare⦠these are some buzzwords which mostly pertain to the worlds of photography and video, but they run in parallel with illustration. Many artists look for visual hooks, something that brings individuation or "edge" to their work. It’s marketable, I’ll give it that, but it’s also transient when your style is no more than a fashion trend. In college, I had a teacher who told me something along the lines of: "Sam, design trends, fads, and gimmicks come and go, realism/classicism and the genres bent off of it won’t always be popular, they won’t always sell well, but they have always and likely will always be here to stay." This stuck with me - not just on the illustrative plane, but looking at the photographers I’ve been able to work with, they ride down a similar path, working within the framework of reality. Bending the rules, but not breaking them just to find a "different" gimmick.

I was skeptical about continuing down this road. After all, most painters are taught realism initially and then they push into other styles. "Why would someone hire me to paint their portrait when they could get someone to take a picture that is quicker, more accurate, and possibly less expensive?" I thought. But in the two years I’ve been working, I’ve realized that speed, accuracy, and cost are shockingly relative terms.

A commissioned portrait typically takes at least 20 hours for me. Far more than it takes for someone to take a photo and edit it. However, I don’t require advanced lighting setups, assistants, hair and make-up, a specific location, expensive equipment, and taking thousands of photos to eventually select just one. A recent client, Donald Glover, had a packed schedule, as most celebrities do — I sidestepped this and met him out on the town.  I simply pulled him aside for 5 minutes, and snapped a few reference pictures from different angles in the dim light of the club with an entry-level DSLR.  And that was the extent of time I required of him or anyone else — the rest was Whisky. It still took many hours to paint, but the time and resources didn’t come from the client.

I work hard to try to capture a decent likeness. It’s no photograph, but with my limitations in technical ability at this stage in my life, I try to make up for in treatment and character. There’s no tutorial for these things, just practice. Where capturing individual pores and exact anatomy fall short, painting allows flexibility in accuracy. When I get reference, the lighting is irrelevant as the reference is to understand the form. I shoot around the figure rather than from one angle, so that I can learn their anatomy and how light hits it. Learning each person as a three dimensional entity enables client direction like "I’d like my eyes less happy." Vague? Not really. When we smile, every muscle in our face adjusts slightly. Making eyes less happy involves being able to re-paint eye-lids, eye-brows, adjusting forehead crinkles, lowering cheeks, uncurling lips, and dozens of other tiny nuances. If my reference is of someone with their mouth open, and they want it closed, it takes some thinking.  But it can be done. The detachment from direct realism, that wiggle-room freed up by color treatment, loose brushstrokes, and texture, lets things like this flow naturally in a painting environment, while in photo manipulation/re-touching, such a thing can easily be botched and unrealistic.

Much like the relative displacement of time, cost works similarly. I charge more for a single image than most traditional commercial photographers (at my level of exposure) would, but people pay for the imagery and the rights, nothing else. There is no division or expenditures for location, production, sets, equipment, assistants, retouchers, etc. If someone wants the Sahara desert, some velociraptors, and spaceships in the background, painters get to just make those things up. It requires only one person's time and energy, rather than the coordination of entire teams and sets.  As you can imagine, the economics of one person over many can be vastly different.

All of the pros and cons of the aforementioned mediums and technologies meet at the same place with the same question: How do you share them with the world? Well, since you’re reading this, you are probably familiar with The Internet. The Internet is the single most powerful tool available to the public. It wasn’t always that way, but right now, I can get on my computer, in any area of the world with a connection, and I can share my work, my thoughts, news, ideas, and process with anyone who cares to listen. I can put a single image online and track it as it virally trickles and booms across various websites - finding its way into millions of eyeballs.

I don’t believe that anyone with an Internet connection can find success, but I do believe that the barriers which separate someone who wants it and who can have it are largely diminished by the web. Anyone who is willing to treat their craft like they’re a doctor or a lawyer, putting in exhaustive hours like their creative job matters just as much as any other, I believe they can find success.  I firmly believe that we live in a time where actual effort met with a basic understanding of social media can sustain us. There are always excuses. Timing, connections, and luck are words people love to throw around for reasons why they haven’t found a footing. With the Web at your finger-tips, those factors are greatly reduced. It’s you, your work, your commitment to improving it, and the power to share it. It’s not an instantaneous process nor one that fits into quick-fix culture, but it’s one where your name can be found and explode through "likes" and "retweets" instead of yearly contests/awards and knowing just the right people.

We live in a digital renaissance that many disregard because of gossip blogs and cat .gifs. However, technology has allowed generations, new and old, to find ways to create fresh and exciting things from both revolutionary and evolutionary methodologies, and share them in unprecedented ways. Within a single piece of software, I have infinite canvases, brushes, colors, and layers. Nothing has to dry. Nothing has to be coated or prepped. When I pick up my stylus, I waste no time on the monotony of tertiary painting elements — they have been synthesized and streamlined into nearly instantaneous aspects of my work flow allowing me to jump in and create.

There are simple advantages of digital mediums which aren’t up for debate, but within every fiber of the toolset, the tablet, and the software, lies a foundation built by traditional painters, and for that reason, it’s important to not look back at what came before as obsolete. Technology and art are converging — what we can make, and how we make it are expanding at a rapid pace — but old mediums aren’t simply dying.

Why? Because not everything old is broken. I can’t achieve the smell, texture, and true organic nature of oil paint. No amount of slapped-on filters can make a digital photo look like a true tintype. No preset font looks quite like hand-written pen and ink calligraphy. That’s not permanent. Eventually, consumer printers will be able to print the three dimensional depth and texture maps along with a painting. Fully simulated chemicals and physics will enable digital ink to bleed and flow naturally while photos become instantaneously exposed and treated as if in a real dark room. These things aren’t unrealistic, they’re ideas built on readily-available technologies.

Do new mediums carry a stigma? Of course. Very rarely does the digital world find its way into the realms of “high art”, but it is trickling in as digital artists develop new ways to assign pseudo-symbolism to what we do.

Perhaps there’s no grand symbolism to my work to elevate it to the elusive “high art” status, I can’t say there are any deep emotions or bursting geysers of self-expression, and my concepts are typically one-note and surface-level⦠but to say why I make things in this way with this medium for one simple reason:

I’m obsessed with the future and will likely spend my life hurdling towards it, always looking over my shoulder.

You can see more of Sam’s work at, keep up with him on his blog, find him on Facebook, and follow him on Twitter.

A couple of different ways of looking at the Olympics

My partner Lucinda Marland and I were chatting a couple of years ago about the London 2012 Olympic Games and how we could get involved. We came up with a plan to shoot environmental portraits of Britain’s oldest Olympic Gold medalists, we felt that today’s youth obsessed society either overlooked or had forgotten about their achievements.

We spent the next two years reaching out to the Gold medalists and we managed to shoot all 14 of them (they had a combined age of over a thousand years). It culminated in an exhibition overlooking the London 2012 Olympic stadiums earlier this year. In fact if you are in London at the moment a selection of them are on display in the John Lewis store, Oxford street.

With my new found interest in the Olympics my eye caught the furore regarding Joe Klamar’s Team USA photographs.

I really can be quite unsympathetic when I see bad photography.

Particularly when it is by a ‘Pro’ working for a major and world renowned organisation.

When I first became aware of the furore surrounding these shots, I really was pretty astounded by what I saw, and despite all the excuses from his photo editor the pictures are, apart from a couple of exceptions, pretty rotten.

Nothing can really put into words what is wrong with them, lighting, execution, concept.

They are, in my opinion less than optimum…..

As I’m sure Joe Klamar (whom I have never met, nor do I have any connection with) would readily admit to, over a beer perhaps.

If you are expecting me to join in giving Joe Klamar a verbal lashing, which in my mind has been similar to the stoning scene in ‘The Life of Brian’ where all the women are wearing fake beards, well think again.

I have committed similar photo crimes to Joe and so very much worse too.

Let me explain.

The photos are generally indefensible until you read his account of the assignment.

‘I was under the impression that I was going to be photographing athletes on a stage or during press conference where I would take their headshots for our archives [and] I really had no idea that there would be a possibility for setting up a studio’.

I have seen some pretty strong comments from all comers.

But I would ask any of them to consider this.

What would you have done?

It’s all very well winning ‘blah, blah’ photo of the month with some unforced photo of something you like to shoot and had some kind of control or input in.

With the possibility of planning too.

Joe was sent on the equivalent of a photo suicide mission.

Without wishing to play the blame game, one could look elsewhere.

What brief was he given?

Most of my photo apocolypses have been set up by either poor briefing (ie not telling the photographer what they were getting into) or when I have not listened to the brief properly.

I have no idea which it was but these are scenarios which are possibilities.

The comment which cropped up often was ‘I could have done better with my iPhone, and in the right conditions I dare say we all could.

And there is the rub, in the right conditions.

Consider the excellent American baseball team photos by Nick Laham, shot on an iPhone in the restroom, seemingly against the odds but there was some form of preparation, note the KinoFlo’s (I LOVE them!), and I’m prepared to wager he was not fighting with every other news organisation to get the shot either.

The difference between an amateur and a pro is that as a pro you HAVE to take a photo as someone is paying you.

You don’t have the luxury of an amateur  of choosing when to pick the camera up or indeed what you shoot.

Imagine it was you who was sent to shoot this super high profile assignment unprepared, not knowing what the possibilities were, and having all the wrong gear.

On the AFP blog, Joe tells how he arrived with 2 bodies, 3 lenses and one flash unit……….oh dear.

After the wave of nausea had swept over you and, providing you were still standing, you would have to come up with some sort of plan, and quickly.

You might have done better than he did or you may have cracked under the pressure and done even worse.

He shot something which was not his finest moment, though I do actually like the shot of the guy with the dreads.

There is a native American saying which we could all do well to pay heed to ‘Never judge a man until you have walked a mile in his shoes.’

You can see more of Drew’s work at, keep up with him on his blog, and follow him on Twitter.

Hey everyone, RC here. Just wanted to share something that one of our Photoshop Guys did recently that I thought was just too cool!

Hands down Corey Barker is one of the most talented #Photoshop artists out there. With all of the Olympics fever coming around, Corey wanted to see if he could re-create the entire olympics logo, right inside of Photoshop. He took a timelapse of it, and I think its a wonderful 2 and a half minutes of watching the guy work. Thanks for the inspiration, Corey!

We were flattered and honored when asked to write a guest blog – and, we were told, we could write about whatever we wanted. But, we wondered, why us? What could we possibly have to say to the readers of this blog?

Visitors to our photo gallery frequently ask us, “are you THE photographer?” (that may be flattering, but not if you happen to have photographs from the early 1900’s on exhibit); or, “are you A photographer?” (“no, we leave that to the experts”). Truth be told, besides taking pictures of our children when they were young, we have no real camera experience whatsoever and could not by any stretch be considered “photographers.” So, stop here if you want technical advice or news on the latest digital accessory, plug-in, or wiz-bang program.

As gallerists concentrating on photojournalism, what we do know is that the way a great photograph can capture time, emotions, and experience is what makes photography a unique art form. There is a certain mystery about a photograph that captivates viewers and causes them to pause in thought and remembrance, and maybe, just maybe, change the way they think.

Throughout our careers we have been privileged to know, or to have known, many committed photographers who have created a visual record of the times we all live in. Within each of these beings exists a drive and a determination to tell the story. At the very beginning of our careers, Alfred Eisenstaedt told us that the photographer's job "is to find and catch the storytelling moment." And that is how we have looked at photographs ever since.

So we decided to take this opportunity to acknowledge the dedicated photojournalists who have been, and continue to be, there to bring the voices and the images of the people to us all through photographs. And, in the process, we’ll affirm the place for storytelling in the 21st Century.

To some, the single image seems almost “quaint,” if not obsolete, in today’s world. We are told that video, multi-media, and “platforms” are the way to tell stories. And, we are bombarded by images throughout our daily routine: photos are sent instantly by mobile phone; the internet is literally saturated with every image conceivable; and the pictures on the TV news and in newspapers and magazines are almost an afterthought. So, is there a place for the story of the single image?

We were too young to remember, at that time, the published pictures of the assassinations of John F. Kennedy, Robert F. Kennedy, and Martin Luther King, but rather have memories of those events from the reactions of adults around us at the time. Today, photographs of these leaders connect generations not only with their causes and ideals, but with the tragic and violent end to these leader’s lives – all of which were captured on camera.

However, we do remember vividly the daily publication of photographs from the Vietnam War, and the nightly footage on television news. These images communicated the stark reality of war in a way words could never describe. We could not fully comprehend the politics and issues of that war, but because of those photographs, we came to understand what war was.

(Consider that for the past 10 years, the world has seen very little from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Can you cite “iconic” images of these wars, as compared to the now-classic images from World War II and Vietnam? Photojournalists from many leading news organizations have of course been covering the conflict, and what has been missing from the newspapers will be presented in the forthcoming book by Michael Kamber, Photojournalists on War, a groundbreaking new visual and oral history of America's nine-year conflict in the Middle East. We recommend that everyone get this book – there are a few limited edition copies left.)

In the 1980’s, we were extremely fortunate to get to know the great Life photographer Alfred Eisenstaedt. At one of our first meetings, he shuffled through stacks of prints and history came alive before our eyes: Goebbels, Hitler, Mussolini, Einstein, Oppenheimer, Churchill, the Kennedys, and everyday people and extraordinary locations of the 20th century – frozen forever in a single frame. Eisie introduced us to Carl Mydans, who once wrote: “Sometimes people have asked me why I devoted so much of my life to covering these terrible scenes, these disasters, these wars.  The answer always has been that what I am doing is important, and that’s why I am here. I am making a record of historic times.” (If you are not familiar with Mydans’ photographs, you owe it to yourself to find out about one of the most unheralded photojournalists of all time.)

Our course was set, and for decades now we have worked to enhance the understanding of photojournalism and promote the work of photojournalists in print form. In the beginning, many photographers were nothing short of incredulous; completely unconvinced that anyone would care to see their pictures outside of a magazine or newspaper. It continues to be our unwavering belief that history lives on beyond newsprint.

Perhaps it is the same with every generation, but the challenges humanity as a whole faces today seem to be enormous. From the politics of your local hometown, to the platform of the national stage, to the innumerable issues facing people and countries world-wide, these are tumultuous times. Yet at the same time, if one so chooses, it is very easy to simply block out the inconvenient truths of our time, or to blame it on “the other side”. Of course the world is more complex than that, and there are thousands of dedicated photojournalists covering critical issues and events in every corner of the world right at this very moment, some at great peril and personal risk. The stories their pictures tell are critical to helping us all confront and understand complex issues. Their photographs will be a record for historians in the future and will inform future generations of events that shaped the world they inherited.

And despite what you may have heard, these pictures are out there to be seen. Even sometimes in newspapers and magazines (The Guardian and Telegraph not only publish good photo stories, but have dedicated sections for photography on their websites.) Find out about some of the important work being done at photo agencies such as NOOR and VII Photo, to name just a couple; and collectives such as Facing Change: Documenting America; and by all means be sure to check out TIME’s LightBox and Photojournalismlinks. Sometimes, to see, one has to look.

Our current exhibition presents photographs of select human rights struggles, and the exhibition has affirmed our steadfast belief in the power of a photograph. The exhibit’s press release stated “Photographers in this exhibition illustrate the power of photography to inform, persuade, enlighten and enrich the viewer’s life.” Visitors to the gallery may not know what to expect when entering, and some have whirled about to face the front desk and exclaim “This is serious!” Today a gentleman said to us, “Well, I’ve seen some beautiful paintings, but this makes you think”. We have seen parents quietly explaining the situation behind a photograph to their children, we have seen people softly weeping, we have been asked “why do you show this?” and the quiet of the gallery has occasionally been startled by someone gasping “Oh my God!”

It is this quality that has caused photography to become the main medium of our times. It is this “storytelling moment” that in fact defines photojournalism. Joe McNally wrote “What I truly believe about a powerful picture is that after viewing it, you are never the same. You have been changed, forever. You might not realize it at that moment, but you are.” And we think that is exactly correct.

So, as we started, we take this opportunity to acknowledge the dedicated photojournalists who have been, and continue to be, there to bring the voices and the images of the people to us all through photographs. We honor your commitment and service to humanity. The word “story” is often misunderstood to mean a “tale” or a fictional narrative; but its actual definition is simply “history.” Let us all open our eyes, and see the stories that form our collective history.

You can see more at, keep up with them on their blog, follow them on Twitter, or just stop by the gallery when you’re in Santa Fe!