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Brad Temkin ( is perhaps best known for his photographs of contemporary landscape. His work is held in numerous collections, including The Art Institute of Chicago; Milwaukee Art Museum; Museum of Fine Arts, Houston; Akron Art Museum; Amon Carter Museum of American Art; and Museum of Contemporary Photography, Chicago, among others. His images have appeared in such publications as Aperture, Black & White Magazine, TIME Magazine and European Photography. He has been awarded numerous grants and fellowships including an Illinois Arts Council Fellowship in 2007 and a Guggenheim Fellowship in 2017. Temkin has published three monographs to date: Private Places: Photographs of Chicago Gardens (Center for American Places 2005); ROOFTOP (Radius Books 2015); and The State Of Water (Radius Books 2019). Temkin has been an adjunct professor at Columbia College in Chicago since 1984.


LACP Interviews Brad Temkin

LACP asks Brad Temkin ten questions about his background, career in and beliefs about photography

Los Angeles Center of Photography: What kind of photographer are you?

Brad Temkin: My work is fueled by wanting to learn about a subject and sharing my discoveries and wonder. I work in the real world, rather than staging ideas. Beauty is my sharpest tool, which I use to engage the viewer into asking questions about the subject. To quote James Joyce: “The object of the artist is the creation of the beautiful. What the beautiful is is another question.”

LACP: How long have you been shooting?

BT: I began in 1973, and realize I haven’t changed with my intent. Its been fun to look back at pictures made 40 years ago and see that I still am attracted to similar subject…but with a little more wisdom and skill in approaching it. Making pictures has been a gift for me.

LACP: Where did you get your training?

BT: I got my BFA in photography at Ohio University in Athens, Ohio and my MFA in photography at University of Illinois, Chicago. I was fortunate to have some very good mentors along the way in university and out.

LACP: When did you know you wanted to devote your life to photography?

BT: I immediately fell in love with photography. It was magic! Early on I saw the work of Minor White, and realized that photography offered a vibrant pathway to personal exploration. I decided that I wanted to make pictures – visual poetry – about the world and my relationship to it.

LACP: Did you ever come close to giving up?

BT: We all reach crossroads and it is easier to quit than to keep on when there is self doubt…and I have wondered several times if I lost my mojo. But, making pictures gives me such joy and teaches me so much…it feeds me. I can not ever see myself without it in my life.

LACP: Have you sacrificed anything by being a photographer?

BT: We make choices all the time. Photography is my first priority and has been an integral part of my life for over 40 years, so I don’t think of it as sacrificing. It is a choice that has added more to my life than I could ever want.

LACP: What have you gained by being a photographer?

BT: It gives me permission to stare. I have become self aware and always ask questions. I see the world as a good place with a refreshing sense of wonder.

LACP: What classes do you teach at LACP?

BT: The Journey of Making Long-Term Projects

LACP: What do you love most about teaching?

BT: I love watching others discover awareness and their relationship with the world. The awareness that changes lives. I teach to give back to what photography has given to me and to my mentors, for their wisdom, and taught me. My life changed because of them and I hope I can make a difference in enriching others.

LACP: What advice would you give someone who is thinking about making a career in photography?

BT: I listen to questions rather than looking for answers. My advice is to always ask the questions and listen to where they come from, be aware of what where you are in the moment.