“They’re just pictures.” That’s what someone might state about any pictures he or she sees when reading a newspaper, a book, a magazine, etc., but when someone sets his or her eyes on pictures that have been taken by photojournalist Jack Dykinga that statement couldn’t be more wrong. Dykinga takes pictures in order to bring issues out of their graves. He’s accomplished so much in his career and done various jobs in relations to photojournalism. His ability to travel around the world has also made him successful in his career. Life experiences have made an impact on his career as well.
Dykinga’s photojournalism career began in his hometown of Chicago in high school. He took pictures for his high school’s newspaper. Then when he was approximately eighteen years of age, he had a job that required him to take photos of celebrities at an airport in Chicago called O’Hare Airport. Next he would become employed by the Chicago Tribune where he took pictures for them. While working at the Chicago Tribune, he went to school. He took pictures of news events that occurred in the city of Chicago. After working there, Dykinga began working for the Sun-Times. Later in his career, he took over as the photo editor of the Arizona Daily Star for about five years. While working for the Arizona Daily Star, he taught photojournalism at the University of Arizona and Pima Community College. Today, Dykinga shoots pictures on the environment in order to preserve land in certain areas of the world.
There have been several motivations for Dykinga’s passion for photojournalism. One motivation occurred when he worked at the Sun-Times. He was given a story along with other journalists about the state of affairs of the “state schools” or mental hospitals. The problem was that the state government had planned to decrease funding for these schools, and parents of the students who went here were angry over this. As a result, Dykinga took pictures of how these students were doing at these hospitals, and it turned out these hospitals were in bad conditions. His pictures resulted in the state deciding not to decrease funding but to instead increase funding for these schools. Dykinga said when talking about this topic, “So that’s kind of, why I do journalism, to effect change.” (Page 3 from interview you have on class homepage) Several people have also been an inspiration to him. Fellow photographer, Philip Hyde was an inspiration because Dykinga saw his articles and pictures on environmental issues. Dykinga knew that news on environmental issues was not as popular as other hard news, but said this about it “But I think in the end they’re (in reference to environmental issues) going to be the most important, most critical. So that is why I do what I do.” (Page 4 of interview) In the beginning of his career, Dykinga got into photography for the money and because his brothers were photographers. (Page 1 of interview) A near death experience also pushed Dykinga into photographing on environmental issues. This experience occurred when he was in mountaineering school in 1974. One day a storm hit where he was, and he nearly died. He said where this occurred it was “an incredibly beautiful place.” (Page 4 of interview)
Throughout his life, Dykinga has won numerous awards. His first award he earned was when he was a sophomore in high school. The award was from the Look magazine photo contest for a photo he took about football. In 1971, he won the Pulitzer Prize for the pictures he took about the students living in the mental hospitals. Dykinga has won the 2011 Outstanding Photographer of the Year Award from the Nature of Photgraphers of North America. One of his environmental photos, called Stone Canyon was chosen as one of the best out of forty photographs having to do with nature of all time by the International League of Conservation Photographers. His pictures are published in countless publications such as: Wilderness Society, Audubon, Harper’s magazine, National Geographic magazine, Arizona Highways magazine, and more.
Several books have been published with pictures from Dykinga and with writing done by Charles Bowden on places where they have gone to bring about awareness about environmental issues. Books they have produced together are called “The Secret Forest,” “Frog Mountain Blues,” “Stone Canyons of the Colorado Plateau,” and “The Sonoran Desert.” Dykinga has books that concentrate on environmental issues that are in Mexico and Arizona.
In the present, Dykinga has many projects he is working on in order to achieve preservation of the environment. One project he’s working on is trying to establish a bi-national park which would be located on the Mexico-Arizona border which is an effort by the Sonoran National Park Project.
Dykinga along with his colleagues have brought several environmental issues to reality. One example of this is he brought awareness to regions near the Rio Grande River with pictures that were published in the February 2007 issue of National Geographic. Another instance also happened in 2007 when colleagues of his from Germany, Italy, the United States, and Mexico documented the state of the El Triunfo cloud forest located in Mexico. His colleagues and he began the Rapid Assessment Visual Expedition or RAVE for the International League of Conservation Photographers as a result of the cloud forest located in Chiapas, Mexico.
He is appreciated I’m sure by several wild animals out there and by several environmentalists but what’s important to know about Jack Dykinga is that his love for photography isn’t just completely about personal satisfaction. His love for creating change to better the lives for every living thing in this world is what makes him a successful photojournalist. He is a kind of guy who isn’t afraid to express how he feels about something and takes action because of how he feels. Dykinga isn’t doing what he does for a living entirely to make money, but instead he does it in order to fix an issue or bring awareness to an issue that is completely being ignored by others.
1. Biography on Jack Dykinga that you (Cynthia Lancaster) provided the photojournalism class with on the class homepage online
2. Biography provided on Jack Dykinga’s website <http://www.dykinga.com/>
3. The interview Jack Dykinga that you (Cynthia Lancaster) provided the photojournalism class with on the class homepage.
4. <http://watch.opb.org/video/1573205802/?starttime=1139000> Interview of Jack Dykinga by Arizona Illustrated on August 23, 2010 OPB Video <approximately from 18:59 to 25:02> Producer and Editor: Sooyeon Lee; Accessed on November 02, 2010