For the first time ever, the St. Louis-based International Photography Hall of Fame is presenting a lifetime achievement award for photography, but the recipient might come as a surprise. It's not Ansel Adams, not Richard Avedon, but rather Kenny Rogers.
Yes, Rogers — a Grammy winner for a much different genre of art.
“He’s a phenomenal photographer known for his portrait and landscape photography,” says Patty Wente, the hall of fame's executive director. “His photographs are stellar.”
The IPHF honors those who have made great contributions to the field of photography. It also preserves historic photographs and cameras to share with the world. After first opening its doors in Santa Barbara in 1977, the hall of fame moved to Oklahoma City in 1983 — and then, 30 years later, to St. Louis. In 2013, the museum moved to a gallery and exhibition space in Grand Center.
The 2017 induction ceremony takes place Friday, November 17
Nominees were chosen based on their contributions to the art or science of photography.
“This year, the IPHF is honored to recognize ten creators who have uniquely revolutionized the modern photography industry,” Wente explained in a press release. “Our 2017 awardees are innovators who broke the norm of tradition and conceived their own ways of creatively communicating with the world around them.”
In 2014, Rogers was awarded an honorary master of photography by the Professional Photographers of America for his contributions to the artform. He has taken portraits of Michael Jackson, Elizabeth Taylor and Jane Fonda… to name a few.
Wente says Rogers does a good job of capturing the personality of his subjects. He has a way of making them feel comfortable and relaxed. He also has a gallery in Atlanta.
When he was recognized by the Professional Photographers of America, the award caught the hall of fame's eye. His work did the rest, Wente says.
“Everyone knew who he was because of his fame and so I imagine he had access because of that, but besides access, access is nothing if you don’t have the art to capture a comfortable photograph that portrays the person in the environment that they are in,” Wente says.
“If someone is talented, they are talented,” Wente adds. “There are several people you don’t think of as being a photographer, and if you think about it, everybody’s a photographer with your phone.”
More recently, the IPHF has been recognized by the American Society of Photographers, or ASP, and will be awarded the 2018 International ASP award in January. This award is presented annually to a firm or person that ASP believes has contributed in a significant way to the ideals of professional photography as an art and science.
“I think the IPHF has the right environment to make it go and grow for years to come in St. Louis,” Wente says.