Monday, February 24, 2014

WHERE ARE THEY NOW? Peter Essick, BHS '75


Photojournalist tapped as guest lecturer for series

Posted: Saturday, February 22, 2014 1:00 am

By CHUCK MASON The Daily News

A photographer has to bring a passion to his subject, veteran photojournalist Peter Essick said.

“Your pictures are most meaningful,” the longtime contributor to National Geographic magazine said, adding the passion is combined with technical ability and composition in the photographs.

Essick will be the guest lecturer during a free program at 7:30 p.m. Thursday for the 10th anniversary of the John B. Gaines Family Lecture Series at Western Kentucky University’s School of Journalism and Broadcasting. The lecture is at the WKU Mass Media and Technology Hall auditorium. The Gaines Family Lecture Series was started in 2004 in honor of the 150th anniversary of Gaines’ family owned newspaper, the Daily News.

Two of Essick’s photographic exhibits are on display at Mass Media and Technology Hall through March 21, “Our Beautiful, Fragile World,” and “Ansel Adams Wilderness.” The latter is a tribute by Essick to Adams, wilderness scenes photographed in Adams’ iconic black-and-white style.

“The granite wilderness is better in black and white,” Essick said, adding that he enjoys both the applications of black and white and color photography to his various subjects. He said the introduction of digital photography has brought some pluses to photography in general, though he added digital photography also has devalued the art of photography because more people take pictures with their devices.

“There’s so much (photography) out there. It’s not the same craft that you had to learn,” Essick said.

Back in the days of film photography, there was an uncertainty of what images had been captured until all the film was developed, he said.

Essick said photography is a joy when all the elements come together.

“I go into a creative anxiety and then there is the joy of expression,” he said.

Essick has brought a passion to photographs of environmental settings since serving as a summer intern working for the National Geographic magazine in the 1980s. Essick did the internship while studying photojournalism in the University of Missouri’s master’s program.

He’s been a regular contributor to National Geographic, photographing 40 stories over the years. He was recently named one of the 40 most influential nature photographers in the world by Outdoor Photography magazine.

Essick chatted about his craft during a recent telephone interview while he was working on a project about water scarcity in America’s West. Essick grew up in southern California and developed an appreciation for the outdoors while attending Burbank High School. He graduated from BHS in 1975.

“My father was a science teacher and an amateur photographer,” Essick said. “We used to backpack Yosemite National Park and other places.”

Essick presents workshops to junior high school students and encourages them to photograph things in which they are interested.

An undergraduate business major at the University of Southern California, Essick worked in the accounting department at Capitol Records before assisting a commercial photographer. Essick’s roommate at Missouri was Loup Langton, current director of the WKU School of Journalism and Broadcasting.

“Having known Peter for almost 30 years, I’m certain that his presentation on visually documenting a host of global environmental developments will fascinate and stimulate thinking among students, faculty and guests,” Langton said in a news release of Essick’s lecture.

Peter's Website

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