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Guest Speaker

Douglas Kirkland

One afternoon while having lunch with Douglas at his home in the Hollywood Hills, I was struck by his humble tone. Douglas has always been someone who is immensely generous, creative, and alive. And he has consistently used his cameras in creative ways. Like this iconic portrait of Marilyn Monroe taken from ten feet above. To see more of his legendary work: visit

What inspires you?

My earliest inspirations were the copies of Life magazine that came to our house in Fort Erie, Canada, on Friday afternoons. They showed the world in the most exciting way through the eyes of Gjon Mili, Alfred Eisenstaedt, Gordon Parks, and Margaret Bourke-White, to name just a few. From my earliest days, photography has always been about interpreting people or places, capturing a moment, a mood, a light. I understand the world better by looking at it through a camera.

I look at the everyday world around me, I look at the work of other artists, I listen to great music. Being alive is being inspired.

What makes a photograph good?

This is such a subjective question. Freshness, information, exploration of cultures, aesthetic pleasure, composition, impact, stimulation, romance, emotion... I could go on forever.

What character qualities should the photographer nurture?

A healthy dose of ego that doesn’t degenerate into arrogance. Sensitivity to continuous change. Resilience and adaptability.

What is your advice for the aspiring photographer?

I believe you have to be totally committed and realize you are entering an increasingly tight and competitive world. It is possible to get in, but once you succeed you can never coast or sleep or you will be quickly overtaken. It is a great world and it is worth the continual pushing.

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