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 more than 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 Vietnam and Cambodia wars, refugees escaping from East Pakistan into India, and the Ali v. Frazier “Fight of the Century” World Heavyweight Championship at Madison Square Garden. Two years later Kennerly was appointed President Gerald R. Ford's Personal White House Photographer.
Kennerly’s photos have appeared on more than 50 major magazine covers, and he has documented history in over a hundred countries. He has photographed ten United States Presidents, covered twelve presidential campaigns, served as a contributing editor for Newsweek magazine for ten years, and a contributing photographer for Time & Life Magazines for more than fifteen. American Photo Magazine named Kennerly “One of the 100 Most Important People in Photography”, and Washingtonian Magazine called Kennerly one of the 50 most important journalists in Washington, DC. His work has been exhibited widely and he maintains a busy publishing, appearance and lecture schedule.
In 2019, The University of Arizona Center for Creative Photography acquired the David Hume Kennerly Archive, which features almost one million images, prints, objects, memorabilia, correspondence and documents dating back to 1957. The Kennerly Archive includes iconic portraits of U.S. presidents, world leaders, celebrities and unknown individuals, as well as personal correspondence and mementos such as the helmet and cameras that Kennerly used while photographing the Vietnam War. His work will join that of Ansel Adams, Edward Weston, Richard Avedon, W. Eugene Smith, and scores of other legendary photographers. In 2018, University of Arizona President Robert C. Robbins appointed Kennerly the university’s first Presidential Scholar.
“The extraordinary archive of photos by David Hume Kennerly is an asset for scholars, students and visitors to campus. His visual legacy will be an integral part of our curriculum,” said University of Arizona President Robert C. Robbins. “He is already working with the Center for Creative Photography to create programming that will draw on his experience and expertise and will spark conversations throughout our campus and broader community.”
Kennerly marked the 50th anniversary of his professional career covering the 2016 presidential campaign for POLITICO and CNN. His 2015 photo essay of the presidential primary season, “I want to Be with the Circus”, was one of the most widely viewed stories in Politico’s history. His campaign coverage for CNN brought him behind the scenes at major events for both the Clinton and Trump campaigns, including with the winner on election night. Kennerly is a major contributor to the CNN book, Unprecedented: The Election that Changed Everything, and his cover photo of President Trump taken for the book during an exclusive portrait session two weeks after the election, 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.”
Kennerly is the author of six books - David Hume Kennerly On the iPhone, Shooter, Photo Op, Seinoff: The Final Days of Seinfeld, Photo du Jour, and Extraordinary Circumstances: The Presidency of Gerald R. Ford. He also produced, “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 prints have been collected by the Library of Congress, National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian and more, including corporations, hotels, restaurants and individuals.
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 Bend, 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 upcoming symposium on Conflict Photography. He presented the 2015 Commencement speech at Lake Erie College where he received an honorary doctorate. Kennerly is a member of the Canon Explorers of Light program that sponsors an elite group of photographers who lecture at photography events and forums.
Kennerly works extensively in commercial and advertising photography. He has a longstanding relationship with Bank of America, for which he photographs the organization’s extensive social responsibility programs, in addition to creating executive portraits and special event photography. Utilizing the same documentary approach that he uses to photograph world events and their leaders, Kennerly has created a vast archive for Bank of America that documents their corporate culture and international presence over nearly a decade. Kennerly also partners with Bank of America in speaking appearances for their leadership and the public. Additional corporate clients having included The Home Depot, The Girl Scouts of America, eBay, New York Presbyterian Hospital, Vital Voices, the Points of Light Foundation and 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 the millions of current Girl Scout cookie boxes.
Kennerly also has an extensive film and TV background. He was executive producer for The Spymasters, a 2015 CBS/Showtime documentary about the directors of the CIA. In 2013 he was producer of 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 is executive producer of the Academy Award short-listed documentary, Portraits of a Lady for HBO directed by Neil Leifer and starring former Justice of the Supreme Court Sandra Day O’Conner. He also was executive producer of Bucksville, a film shot in Portland featuring Academy Award-nominated actor 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.
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 and Creative Visions Foundation. In 2014, Youngstown State University in Youngstown, Ohio established the David Hume Kennerly endowed scholarship for students of the visual arts.
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
- UNPRECEDENTED: THE ELECTION THAT CHANGED EVERYTHING, CNN 2017
- 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
- On-Air news appearances – CNN, CBS News, NBC News, ABC News, Face the Nation, CBS Sunday Morning, Good Morning America, NBC’s Today Show, Morning Joe
- 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”
“David Hume Kennerly is like Forrest Gump, except he was really there.”
-- JAMES EARL JONES