Kennerly modestly refers to himself as a ‘political photographer.’ That’s true, as far as it goes. But it’s like calling Matthew Brady a ‘war photographer’ or Thomas Eakins a ‘Philadelphia portrait painter.” Kennerly is as good as it gets in a craft he defined.”
-HOWARD FINEMAN Global Editor, Huffington Post Media Group
David Hume Kennerly has been a photographer on the front lines of history for fifty years. At 25 he was one of the youngest winners of the Pulitzer Prize in Journalism. Kennerly’s 1972 award for Feature Photography included images of the Ali v. Frazier World Heavyweight Championship at Madison Square Garden, the Vietnam and Cambodia wars, and refugees escaping from East Pakistan into India. Two years later Kennerly was appointed President Gerald R. Ford's chief White House photographer.
His photos have appeared on more than 50 major magazine covers, including TIME, LIFE, and Newsweek. Kennerly has covered stories in dozens of countries. For ten years he served as a contributing editor for Newsweek magazine and for POLITICO in which his 2015 photo essay “I want to Be with the Circus,” was one of the most widely viewed stories in the publication’s history. He has worked as a contributing photographer for TIME & LIFE Magazines, John F. Kennedy, Jr’s George magazine. American Photo Magazine named him “One of the 100 Most Important People in Photography,” and Washingtonian Magazine called Kennerly one of the 50 most important journalists in Washington, DC.
Kennerly marked the 50th anniversary of his professional career in 2016 by covering the presidential campaign for CNN (his 12th), and was a major contributor to their book, Unprecedented: The Election that Changed Everything. His cover photo of President-elect Trump taken for the book during an exclusive portrait session especially earned Kennerly a late-night Trump tweet which stated: “CNN just released a book called ‘Unprecedented’ which explores the 2016 race & victory. Hope it does well but used worst cover photo of me ever.”
Kennerly works extensively in commercial and advertising photography. He has a longstanding relationship with Bank of America, with additional clients having included The Home Depot, The Girl Scouts of America, eBay, New York Presbyterian Hospital, Vital Voices, the Points of Light Foundation and many others. His documentary-style photography and strong focus on portraiture provides corporations and nonprofits with powerful tools for telling their stories. His images have been used in multiple applications from major advertising campaigns to internal documents to fine art décor – even appearing on billboards and the sides of buildings. His most published photographs may be those appearing on millions of Girl Scout cookie boxes!
He also maintains a busy appearance and speaking schedule, including on-air commentary, corporate keynotes, academic lecturing and speeches for professional organizations, conferences and panels. Appearances have included The Newseum, Boston Museum of Fine Arts, The Entertainment Gathering in Monterey (EG), Aspen Ideas Festival, The Sea Island Creativity Conference, TED-x, CEO Summit, and Bank of America's board meetings and Student Leadership Summit. He is also sought-after academic presenter and speaks regularly at universities, colleges and libraries, including Stanford, University of Southern California, Harvard’s Kennedy School and Yale’s symposium on Conflict Photography. He presented the 2015 Commencement speech at Lake Erie College where he also received an honorary doctorate. Kennerly is a member of the Canon Explorers of Light program, an elite group of photographers who lecture at photography events and forums on behalf of Canon.
Kennerly is the author of seven books. The most recent, David Hume Kennerly On the iPhone. Previous books include Shooter, Photo Op, Seinoff: The Final Days of Seinfeld, Photo du Jour, and Extraordinary Circumstances: The Presidency of Gerald R. Ford. In 2009 he was a producer of, “Barack Obama: The Official Inaugural Book,” and was one of its principal photographers.
Kennerly’s fine art photographic prints have been exhibited and collected by museums, corporate entities and individuals around the world. Exhibitions include The Smithsonian Institution, The Annenberg Space for Photography, The Portland Art Museum, Houston Center for Photography, Savannah College of Art and Design in Lacoste France, The University of Southern California, The University of Texas, and a career retrospective at Visa Pour L’Image in Perpignan, France. His work from Vietnam was featured in the War/Photography: Images of Armed Conflict and Its Aftermath, curated by Anne Wilkes Tucker for the Houston Museum of Fine Arts, and Kennerly was featured in the original short documentary, The War Photographers produced as a companion to the exhibit by the Annenberg Space for Photography. Kennerly’s prints reside in the Library of Congress, National Portrait Gallery, and Smithsonian. They are also collected by corporations, hotels, restaurants and individuals.
Kennerly also has an extensive film and TV background. Recent projects include working as Executive Producer for The Spymasters a 2015 CBS/Showtime documentary about the directors of the CIA. He produced The Presidents’ Gatekeepers, a four-hour Discovery Channel documentary about White House chiefs of staff. Both projects were in association with the Emmy Award-winning team of Gedeon and Jules Naudet and Chris Whipple. A directing graduate of the American Film Institute’s Center for Advanced Film and Television Studies, Kennerly was nominated for a Primetime Emmy as executive producer of NBC’s, The Taking of Flight 847, and was the writer and executive producer of a two-hour NBC pilot, Shooter, starring Helen Hunt, based on his Vietnam experiences. Shooter won the Emmy for Outstanding Cinematography. He was executive producer of the documentary, Portraits of a Lady for HBO starring former Justice of the Supreme Court Sandra Day O’Conner that made the short list of film considered for Academy Awards, and Bucksville, an ultra-low budget film shot in Portland featuring Tom Berenger. Kennerly is featured in the 2012 BBC documentary The Scot who Shot the Civil War about photographer Alexander Gardner. He directed a television commercial starring former New York City Mayor Ed Koch for New York Presbyterian Hospital.
In 2014, Youngstown State University in Youngstown, Ohio established the David Hume Kennerly endowed scholarship for students of the visual arts.
In 2018 the University of Arizona appointed Kennerly their first UA Presidential Scholar. He will be based at the University’s Center for Creative Photography (CCP). "The images captured by David Hume Kennerly document some of the most important moments in history over the past 60 years, and they have changed how several generations have viewed the world," said UA President Robert C. Robbins. "We are honored to have David share his experience with our students and community.” The appointment exemplifies the university's commitment to advancing the meaning and understanding of interdisciplinary work in the arts, humanities and social sciences – disciplines that are seen as critical to success in the emerging global economy. As a UA Presidential Scholar, Kennerly will work with the CCP to craft a series of lectures and events that draw on his expertise and span campus disciplines. "We expect these events to serve as community activators, bringing together diverse groups of people for dialogue," Robbins said.
Kennerly is on the Board of Trustees of the Gerald R. Ford Foundation. He is a member of the board of directors of the Eddie Adams Workshop, the Press Photographers Association of Greater Los Angeles, and Creative Visions Foundation.
Kennerly Overview: click to view
- Winner of the Pulitzer Prize in Journalism for Feature Photography, 1972
- Personal photographer to President Gerald R. Ford, 1974-1977
- Contributing editor, NEWSWEEK Magazine, 1995-2005
- Contract photographer, TIME Magazine, 1973-74, 1977-89
- Contributing photographer, LIFE Magazine, 1972
- Contributing photographer, GEORGE Magazine, 1996-97
- Contributing correspondent, ABC's GOOD MORNING AMERICA SUNDAY, 1996
- Contributor, NBC’s The Today Show, 2005-06
- Contributing editor, POLITICO 2015
- Producer, THE PRESIDENTS’ GATEKEEPERS, Discovery Channel, 2013
- Executive Producer, SPYMASTERS, CBS and Showtime, 2016
- Executive Producer, PROFILES FROM THE FRONT LINES, ABC reality series based on military personnel fighting in America’s war against terrorism, 2002
- Executive Producer and Writer, SHOOTER, NBC two-hour pilot based on his book about Vietnam combat photographers, 1986
- Executive Producer, THE TAKING OF FLIGHT 847, NBC Movie of the Week, 1986
- Staff photographer, United Press International, 1967-72
- Staff photographer, The Oregonian, 1967
- Staff photographer, The Oregon Journal, 1966-67
Books: click to view
- DAVID HUME KENNERLY ON THE iPHONE, Goff Books, 2014
- BARACK OBAMA; THE OFFICIAL INAUGURAL BOOK, (Producer) Five Ties Publishing, 2009
- EXRAORDINARY CIRCUMSTANCES: The Presidency of Gerald R Ford, University of Texas Dolph Briscoe Center for American Hostory, 2007
- PHOTO DU JOUR: A Picture-A-Day Journey through the First Year of the New Millennium, University of Texas Press, 2002.
- SEIN OFF: The Final Days of Seinfeld, HarperCollins, 1998
- PHOTO OP: A Pulitzer Prize Winning Photographer Covers Events That Shaped Our Times, University of Texas Press, 1995
- SHOOTER, Newsweek Books, 1979
Selected Awards: click to view
- Pulitzer Prize in Journalism for Feature Photography
- Lucie Masters of Photography Award for Achievement in Photojournalism
- Overseas Press Club’s Olivier Rebbot Award for Best Photographic Reporting from Abroad
- White House Press Photographer's first place for Best Campaign Coverage
- World Press Photo contest two first place prizes for Cambodian coverage
- National Press Photographers’ contest first prize
- Honorary Doctorate, Lake Erie College
- American Photo Magazine’s Best Photo books for PHOTO DU JOUR
- Named one of the Most 100 Most Important People in Photography” by American Photo Magazine Named one of the top 50 journalists by WASHINGTONIAN Magazine, the only photographer on the list.
- President's Award for Excellence in Journalism, Greater Los Angeles Press Club
- Primetime Emmy nomination for Outstanding Drama as Executive Producer of NBC’s THE TAKING OF FLIGHT 847: THE ULI DERICKSON STORY
Exhibitions: click to view
- Visa Pour L'Image, Perpignan, France - Retrospective
- Houston Center for Photography - Retrospective
- Smithsonian Institution’s Arts and Industries Building– Photo Op
- New York Historical Society - Retrospective
- Savannah College of Art and Design in Lacoste France - Retrospective
- University of Southern California, Annenberg School for Journalism
- University of Texas– Retrospective & Photo Op
- Portland Museum of Art - Retrospective
- US Capitol, Cannon Building Rotunda
- Fine art photography exhibitions at private galleries, Photo Expo, Photo LA, SF & Miami.
- Vietnam photography featured in War/Photography: Images of Armed Conflict and Its Aftermath, curated by Anne Wilkes Tucker for the Houston Museum of Fine Arts
Keynote and Speaking: click to view
- Moderator – Moderated World Press Photo conversation among award winners, Newseum’s panel discussion on Vietnam, University of Southern California Annenberg School for Communication, White House Photographers lectures at the LBJ Library, The Gerald R. Ford Library and Museum, etc.
- Keynote speaker - Frequent appearances, including Commencement Speech at Lake Erie College, Bank of America’s International Board of Advisors, Student Leaders Summit and, Board of Directors, Eddie Adams Workshop ,International Center for Photography, Gerald R. Ford Museum, Home of the Free Student Photojournalism Project, CEO Summit.
- Guest lecturer – Stanford University, The University of Southern California Annenberg School for Communication, Harvard’s Kennedy School, Savannah College of Art and Design: Savannah, Lacoste France,and Hong Kong, Brooks Institute, Santa Barbara, CA. Syracuse University, Eddie Adams Workshop, Photo Fusion Workshop.
- Guest speaker – Canon Explorer of Light presenter at numerous venues across America ongoing. Annenberg Space for Photography, The Entertainment Gathering, Monterey, Aspen Ideas Festival Featured Speaker, TedX Bend, Sea Island Creativity Conference.
- Karsh Lecture. Boston Museum of Fine Arts
Additional Information: click to view
David Kennerly once said to me, ‘In photography everything can be taught, except how to see.’ In his photographs… we see people and historical events through the keen, alert eye of an eminent camera artist.”
- HERMAN WOUK, Author of “The Winds of War”