Tuesday, December 1, 2009


©2009 Kevin Vandivier

This last summer I scouted the Tetons for a workshop I would later lead there. I decided to get up early and shoot the Mormon Barns in the park the day after landing in Jackson Hole. Arriving while it was still dark I found one other photographer who had beat me there, nabbing the best angle of course. Since, like most of us, I’ve seen millions of images of this barn over the years, I wanted to find an angle at least rarely shot. Deep in a hole my angle was found. First the 4x5 field view camera was set up and then my trusty Nikon.

Soon there was ten photographers around me, but birds could still be heard chirping. Then 20, 25, 30 35…at least I had my unique hole angle…whatever. It now sounded more like a packed Starbucks than a national park before sunrise! Then the peak dawn arrived and a gaggle of voices was replaced with a array of shutters. I simply felt cheap! I had built a very successful career on always shooting the unique angle or approach. Truthfully, I still even haven’t bothered processing the 4x5 film yet.

After spending the last day scouting my workshop, I landed hard in my bed a bit depressed, still haunted by what was experienced at the barns. Then it hit me…What about light painting the barns? I was out of that bed like a 17 year old teen. Though it was darkening, I still had time to make it. Long story short, the shot above is the end result. I left the mountains pleased and soon the photo caught the attention of those at Rangefinder Magazine. Rangefinder was intrigued about how I shot it and asked I write an article. One other note, as an email promo, my site traffic increased the most from all my other email promos. Unique approaches and angles is what everyone is looking for, not the same old shots!

Tuesday, November 24, 2009



We’ve opened a gallery in Austin, Texas and have hung some of my work, but mostly the works of others. I really do enjoy encouraging other young photographers…and a few old birds as well. Texas Photo Workshops was formed to educate photographers about two things killing our profession, Viral Mediocrity & amateurs/pro’s desperate to get noticed giving away their work or charging next to nothing. Then everybody losses! Through TPW I strive to train photographers to shoot for excellence and help them understand why it is important to the business to charge a fair wage for their work. So far so good! Finally, I also still shoot assignments when I’m not teaching workshops or writing photography articles for magazines like Rangefinder.

To circle the wagons, I’ll leave you with this…my dad listlessly waned in his death bed a few years back as I visited him for the last time. I gave him an 11x17 print of the photo attached and he mustered all his strength to hold the photo above his face and gazed at it with a smile that lit up his face for the final time. He then slowly turned to me and mouthed, “I’m proud of you son”!

Sunday, November 15, 2009


The third man to radically change my life was Ray Adler who was the Director of Photography at The Dallas Times Herald and the man who hired me to shoot and learn among the best gathering of photographers ever, second only to the National Geographic staff of the late 70’s and early eighties. I had to impress my boss by out shooting three Pulitzer Prize winners on staff and a couple of National Photographers of the Year. I soon found the need to be free of tyrannical bosses, (not Ray) so in 1985 I left the newspaper and started a wonderful career as a freelance photographer. Man, that was the best career decision I ever made.

Over time I’ve shot for just about all the top magazines and many ad agencies and corporations. I even got to work as a photography editor for one of the best photography magazines ever to be published, Texas Highways Magazine. Two things pulled me away from that job…I just have to be the boss thing and my love for the free world of freelance photography! I even managed to win a handful of national awards over the years for both my photography and photo editing.

My best friend now is Jesus Christ, the ultimate man that radically changed my life, but photography is still one of my best friends and over the years has taken me around the world to photograph the kings of nations & the poorest of the poor, to the center of the largest hurricane on record & the edge of a volcano producing the longest eruption in history, to war in Lebanon and Israel & Love in Hawaii. Best of all though was that one assignment flying off the deck of an aircraft carrier shooting a story on fighter pilots…WOW! The three of us, Jesus, myself and this Nikon Camera, have had a lot fun together and they helped me through some tough times. The worst of which was the tragic loss of my young son Ryan to an accidental drowning. I was pulled out of many a dark day by getting lost in the process of shooting a timely photo assignment.

Coming soon...THESE DAYS

Tuesday, November 10, 2009


In 1977 I enrolled into the Forestry program at Stephen F. Austin University in Nacogdoches to study Wildlife Game Management. Three years into this degree, I discovered I had a true talent for photography when I shot a photo of a Red Phase Screech Owl and Texas Parks & Wildlife bought it for $75. I was hooked, so photography became my new major and I took all the classes Dr. Michael Roach taught at the time. He was the second man to radically change my life. Without question, one of the best Photo Profs in the U.S. Many of his students have gone on to have stellar careers in photography.

Once I had taken all his classes, I decide to change my major to Photojournalism and transferred to The University Of Texas in Austin. I learned there that you always go for it and never say no for other people. Make them tell you no. Which is why I proposed stories to top newspapers and magazines while I was still in college and landed assignments with several including Smithsonian Magazine, National Geographic World Magazine, The Dallas Times Herald, and The Houston Chronicle. My last years in college were filled with regular assignments from United Press International and the top newspaper in the nation, The Dallas Times Herald. In Fact, those guys decided to hire me full time before I had graduated from college. Thank God the Dean of the College of Communications allowed me to finish my degree via mail (no internet, no email back then).

THE REAL WORLD ...coming soon

Sunday, November 8, 2009

My Photog Story


When I was an aimless teen in the early seventies elated that the draft lottery was cancelled and the draft was ending, for the first time I allowed myself to plan for the future instead of worrying about dying in the Vietnam War. My dad wisely suggested photography as a career and my eyes must have said I loved the idea Though we lived in the low middle class range he went out the next day and invested in a full Nikon setup, 20 rolls of Kodachrome 25 and some lessons with one of the top pros in Houston, Texas. My dads sacrificial gift radically changed the course of my life. 

The Camera helped me navigate the serious bumps of teen life and horrible tragedies I would later have to endure. Shooting photos taught me ways to see life most others are oblivious to. It’s a language that allows me to speak from my heart in a way that words can never do.  Photography became my best friend!

THE COLLEGE YEARS...coming soon