Posts Tagged ‘photojournalism’

Enduring Images: Interview of Jack Dykinga for Outdoor Photographer Magazine

September 15th, 2016

Enduring Images: An Interview with Pulitzer Prize Winning Photojournalist, Celebrated Nature Photographer and 2017 NANPA Lifetime Achievement Award Winner Jack Dykinga by David Leland Hyde

Including Previously Unpublished Interview Sections and Materials

Cover of Outdoor Photographer September Special Issue - Photography with a Purpose

Cover of Outdoor Photographer September 2016 Special Issue – Photography with a Purpose. (Click Image to see larger.)

Jack Dykinga won the Pulitzer Prize in photojournalism while documenting the turmoil of 1960s Chicago. In 1970 he read a Backpacker magazine interview of my father, conservation photographer Philip Hyde. The article by environmental photographer Gary Braasch inspired Dykinga to move West and begin photographing landscapes. He eventually met and became friends with Dad, who mentored him in the ways of conservation photography. They even photographed together on a number of trips, some with a few other photography friends around the Southwest U.S., as well as on mainland Mexico and Baja California.

Jack Dykinga over the years also became a pillar of Western nature photography, working with the acclaimed International League of Conservation Photographers, National Geographic, Arizona Highways and other renowned organizations. The North American Nature Photography Association plans to honor Dykinga with a Lifetime Achievement award this year, much as they did Philip Hyde and David Brower back in 1996.

My interview with Mr. Dykinga touched on how he made the transition from a Midwest urban setting to photographing the wide-open wilderness spaces of the West. It also revealed the sensibilities he discovered were necessary to photograph nature and wildlife for conservation purposes. Our discussion ranged from his experience at various well-known magazines to the refinement of his approach over the years with input from Dad. Dykinga gave insights into a number of conservation projects and the making of a number of his successful books for various causes, including the upcoming new release of A Photographer’s Life: A Journey from Pulitzer Prize-Winning Photojournalist to Celebrated Nature Photographer, in which Dykinga wrote an entire chapter about Dad.

My interview ran over 26,000 words, but I kept only 2,800 for the Outdoor Photographer piece. Some of the remaining 23,200 words will go into my book, but a few sections I will share with readers here. In one section I asked Jack Dykinga about Eliot Porter and Robert Glenn Ketchum. I specifically cut this portion from the Outdoor Photographer version because I did not feel the magazine article was the place to grind the axe about how Eliot Porter has received credit for a number of Dad’s and other’s accomplishments. At the right time and place, in the appropriate venue, a more detailed version of this discussion will be pertinent. For now, Landscape Photography Blogger is more appropriate than Outdoor Photographer for starting to bring some of it to light. The Outdoor Photographer audience is interested in learning from all of these greats of nature photography, not necessarily hearing why one or another have been over or under-recognized. In my opinion Dykinga’s response, while favoring Dad, was well-considered, balanced and tactful. Let’s see what you think when you read it below… In another section, Dykinga shared his experiences and impressions while working with National Geographic and while obtaining more personal, land and place oriented photographs.

David Leland Hyde: John Rohrbach in Regarding the Land: Robert Glenn Ketchum and the Legacy of Eliot Porter, made the exaggerated claims that Eliot Porter invented color nature photography and “almost single handedly saved the Grand Canyon.” Rohrbach also wrote that Robert Glenn Ketchum was the primary photographer carrying on Eliot Porter’s legacy. It was common knowledge among those who were there and widely known thereafter that Dad led the charge spiritually and produced the most photographs for the Grand Canyon campaign. Dad’s photographs illustrated three large format Sierra Club Books and were the cornerstone of Time and the River Flowing: Grand Canyon, the one book specifically produced to prevent two dams above and below the National Park in the Grand Canyon. Eliot Porter’s Glen Canyon book enjoyed wide readership during this time mainly because the campaign to prevent the Grand Canyon dams took on global proportions. The book Time and the River Flowing landed on the desk of every member of Congress and other Washington leaders, as well as quickly fulfilling significant international demand and distribution. As Time and the River Flowing went out all over the world, it effectively advanced the momentum of the global letter writing campaign that ultimately swayed American politicians and stopped the dams. Not all of Philip Hyde’s books in the Sierra Club Exhibit Format Series sold as well as Eliot Porter’s In Wildness Is the Preservation of the World, but Island In Time: Pt. Reyes Peninsula came out the same year. Several other photographers including Litton, Brower, Adams and others were nearly as prominent as Hyde and Porter in bringing color to landscape photography. As far as any photographer taking over Eliot Porter’s legacy, late in Porter’s life when he was ill before a Truckee Meadows Workshop, the organizers called in Hyde to take over Porter’s teaching position, not Robert Glenn Ketchum or anyone else.

Jack Dykinga: Eliot Porter was a great photographer. I will say that right off the bat. Right almost in the second line of his autobiography, without even taking a breath, it says he was a medical doctor who gave that up to be a photographer. Your dad was a self-made person who wanted to be a photographer. He wasn’t a doctor that wanted to be a photographer. He didn’t have either the baggage or the promotional ability that Porter did. A guy like Robert Glenn Ketchum had Ketchum, Idaho named after his family. He lives in Bel Air and Hollywood and he’s done a lot of good conservation work, but the hardship that your father had to go through, made him stronger. Your dad was the kind of person who had to really work for everything he got. I don’t think he had time to blow his own horn. He was trying to make a living. If I had it to do over again, I sure wish I had a lot more money. I wouldn’t have to worry about the next check. But, I think that lack of money also gives you an edge, I don’t mean a winning edge, I mean there’s a certain edge to your life where you’re really having to push pretty hard to get things done and it helps you. Porter’s work had a totally different look, whereas your father’s strength was that he gave you the monumental look of the American West. Your father did a lot more trail hiking than Eliot did and really showed us the land without showing himself.

Hyde: In the early 1960s, the whole direction of the large format books shifted. At first there was the big black and white sensation, This Is The American Earth by Ansel Adams and Nancy Newhall, but then suddenly everybody was really excited about color.

Dykinga: Your father was more of a documenter of wild places. He would look at things as more of a narrative and a project. That’s more akin to what I do. A lot of my friends that I go camping with are what I call single image photographers. They go out and want to get the most powerful shot that day, where I’m more likely to be wrapped up in a concept. That’s because I’m the journalist. You get publishable shots every single day. They may not be the art you want to hang on your wall, but you may want to put them in a book to tell somebody a story. If you try to submit only those that whisper, you’ll never get published, but you can hang them on the wall and live with them and love them.

Hyde: With National Geographic are you doing more or less what Joel Sartore does?

Dykinga: I am a contract photographer. He is a contract photographer on their first list. I used to be on their first list. I have a deep connection with the magazine, but their overall view of landscape is erratic. We have different opinions.

Hyde: Their idea of landscape is always putting a person in the frame.

Dykinga: There you go. You hit it perfectly. The classic example would be the last issue on Yellowstone National Park with people, butchering animals, traps and cowboys. There’s not one sense of place in the whole article. Here we are in this dramatic, incredible landscape that just gets really short shrift with the tact they have taken. The current editor is a journalist. She was the editor of Time Magazine.

Hyde: Would you say that National Geographic goes after the culture more than the place or the wilderness?

Dykinga: You could say that. That’s sort of subjective. I was there when Chris Johns was editor and he loved my approach to landscapes. That went away when he went away. It changes all the time. I still work for them occasionally. A full feature is a 100 day contract and it’s pretty good money, except when you have things blow up, it maybe not as good as you thought.

Hyde: You were in Stephen Trimble’s book, Lasting Light: 125 Years of Grand Canyon Photography. I don’t know that he necessarily found all of the “Who’s who” of Grand Canyon photography, but he included many.

Dykinga: I spend less and less time in cliché locations. They may be visual touchstones for most people, but they’re not interesting to me because even more than the place the solitude is important to me.

Hyde: Like Ansel talked about with the experience?

Dykinga: Yes, a deeper connection. You can’t do that if you’re on a crowded boardwalk in Yellowstone with about 30 Chinese guys with selfie sticks like I just experienced. People now are interested in showing “me there,” more than “there.” I think there’s a profound shift with people being more anthropocentric.

Hyde: We have less and less connection to nature as decades go by and more and more words and noise surrounding ourselves when we do get out there.

Dykinga: I see it all the time where people really go on and on explaining their work. Your father’s message and his voice came through the image. If you go on and on about divinity and God and everything else, that’s maybe what you’re reading into it. A lot of us are just very happy when people see the place and make their own decisions based on their own divinity or lack thereof. That’s as good as you can go. It’s more of a Buddhist approach.

To read the best published portions of the above interview pick up the Outdoor Photographer September Special Issue still on newsstands now for a few more weeks, or available online in October.

My Favorite Photos Of 2010

January 7th, 2011

Mirror Lake, Mist, Winter, Yosemite National Park, Sierra Nevada, California, 2010 by David Leland Hyde. Nikon D90.

For the next 10 or more years, in some ways the rest of my life, I have my work assignment: representing my father, prominent Western landscape photographer Philip Hyde. Also, you may or may not notice from this blog, but I consider myself a writer first and a photographer as a sideline, at least for quite some time to come.

Edward Weston’s Darkroom, Wildcat Hill, Carmel Highlands, California, 2010 by David Leland Hyde. Nikon D90.

My secret to making it into print in the past was to edit several more times than I do when I write blog posts. However, I haven’t made any print or online magazine submissions recently.

Fall Color, Summit County, Rocky Mountains, Colorado, 2010 by David Leland Hyde. Nikon D90.

Even though I am still interviewing people for my book, I hope to get a chance to do more regular magazine writing this year. Perhaps I will even write about other interests besides my father, his photography and life, as is my focus here and during the majority of days.

Mission San Miguel De Arcangel, Paso Robles, California, 2010 by David Leland Hyde. Nikon D90.

Meanwhile, I have been inspired by photographer and fellow blogger Jim M. Goldstein, who seems to have instigated nearly every photo blogger in the photo blogosphere to post their “Best Photos of 2010.” To see more “Best Photos of 2010” from all around the web see Jim M. Goldstein’s blog post, “Top 10 ‘Top Photo Lists.'” Also, the Nature Conservancy just posted a great slide show of its, “Best Nature Photos of 2010.”

Neighbors, San Francisco, California, 2010 by David Leland Hyde. Nikon D90.

I am discovering that I greatly enjoy the photography blogosphere. The community is diverse yet generally friendly and helpful to each fellow blogger. Each photo blogger benefits from the network and contributes as well. Each blogger has something to teach and something to learn. Like minds tend to come together and those who differ widely also cross-pollinate methods and ideas and friendships develop. Through the process I am catching a more serious case of the photography bug all the time. I make photographs in my spare time, about five minutes a month.

Reflection Detail, Manzanita Lake, Lassen Volcanic National Park, California, 2010 by David Leland Hyde. Nikon D90.

I photograph a combination of subjects and do not limit myself to a certain genre or type of photography like many “experts” suggest. My father knew how to specialize. His type of landscape photography was ideal for him. His work was also part of one of the biggest changes in photography to come along, besides perhaps what is happening now and when negatives changed from glass plates to film. Digital photography today, besides being much easier than film, is also more freeing, providing the flexibility and opportunity to pursue various branches of photography and often combine them in new ways.

Fast Food Traveling Band, Travel Stop On Interstate 5, Northern California, 2010 by David Leland Hyde. Nikon D90.

The Road To Mt. Hough, Northern Sierra Nevada, California, 2010 by David Leland Hyde. Nikon D90.

I was fortunate to grow up in the wilderness. I find because natural surroundings are my roots that I naturally photograph the natural scene. However, I also notice that I am drawn to photograph people, and people in nature. I am attracted to social activism as well as environmental activism. If I were to pursue photography full-time rather than writing, or more than writing, the ideal life for me would be as a freelance photojournalist. I would be on the plane as soon as news broke of the BP Oil Spill, down there right in the oil slick with the workers and dead birds. Or I could see photographing inner city poverty and homeless people, or the dot com collapse, hurricanes, earthquakes, environmental disasters, as long as I wasn’t sensationalizing other people’s misfortunes, but doing something to help them.

Colorado Cleanup Demolition, Downtown Denver, Colorado, 2010 by David Leland Hyde. Nikon D90.

These photographs show where my vision is at this time after making digital photographs for just under two years and film photographs off and on for most of my life. Most of the images here are camera raw or close to it with only a few minor adjustments. One of my favorite photography quotes not by my father is, “To see color as form means looking at the image in a new way, trying to free oneself from absorption in subject matter.” –Cole Weston. This quote is part of what I’m about in my photography and will substitute for my own artist’s statement until I write one.

Summit Sunset, Loveland Pass, Rocky Mountains, Colorado, 2010 by David Leland Hyde. Nikon D90. I remember the evening I made this photograph. I had just that morning been commenting that sunsets are cliche and voila: one of the most amazing sunsets I have ever seen was waiting for me just as I emerged from the Loveland Pass Eisenhower Tunnel. I was in the fast lane and literally skidded to a stop in about a foot of snow and flying powder on the center median to make this photograph. Fortunately I was in my 4X4 truck or I would not have made it back onto the pavement without a tow.

“Freeing oneself from absorption in subject matter,” is nearly the opposite of what my father was doing with a camera. His photography was primarily about place and as Emerson put it, “the integrity of natural objects.” I would expand my statement to include the integrity of all objects, as well as the breakdown, disintegration and rearrangement of all objects. Not to mention the celebration of place without attachment to place or to subject matter in the photograph.

Another photographer, I don’t remember who, said something else I like that applies, “Photography is not about what objects look like, it is about what objects look like when photographed.”

Snow Cornice Detail Along Highway 50, Nevada, 2010 by David Leland Hyde. Nikon D90. Sometimes it pays off to be out driving across several states after a fresh snowfall. Amazingly, even though I drive back and forth from California to Colorado a few times a year, I still drive fewer than 8,000 miles a year, significantly less than the average American at just over 12,000 miles a year.

Whiz Burgers, San Francisco, California, 2010 by David Leland Hyde. Nikon D90. Something about fast food, the Catholic Church and all those electric wires powered by San Francisco’s electricity grid set me onto going for an apocalyptic sky look.

As long as I’m borrowing phrases from other photographers I will quote my favorite pioneer landscape photographer and hero, my father, from his Artist’s Statement to close this post. To me this is one of the wisest statements he ever made and part of what drives me, “A mind at peace may be found in any individual or people who have kept touch with what the land is saying and who lack the benefits of instant dissemination of the human troubles that make news. After reading Gandhi, I see that what we need now is a peaceful environmental revolution. The Earth will survive, but will man survive on the Earth?”

To read an introduction to what else I learned from my father see the blog post, “Memories Of Finally Working With Dad.” For more of my photographs see the blog posts, “David Leland Hyde Archival Prints Pre-Launch” and “Best Photos Of 2011.”