Ken Rockwell

I’ve been shooting seriously since I was 5 years old. Here’s a self-portrait from when I was 12.

I put my Minolta SR-1 on a tripod. I set my shutter to 1/500 to get a large aperture, and my clip-on Minolta SR-2 meter told me to set my 53mm ROKKOR f/2 lens to f/4 for Kodachrome 25.

I’m amazed that even back then I knew that light and shadow were important. You can’t see it, but I’m holding an 8-1/2 x 11″ piece of white paper below my face to fill in the shadows!

Even as a newborn I was so curious I lifted my head up to look around the hospital nursery. That attracted all the nurses’ attention to my parent’s surprise. The nurses explained that it’s very rare for a newborn to have strong enough neck muscles to lift his head.

Curiosity is crucial in photography. My mom will tell you that even as soon as she was 5 months pregnant that all I did was poke around trying to see what was going on!

I learned photography by asking my dad, reading books and practicing.

I love traveling California and the world and creating beautiful images. I love feeling nature and beauty. I love all the arts and the outdoors. I run, bike and play in the ocean almost every day. I’ve been doing 50 – 100 mile bike rides since I was in high school. I’m always up for weekend trips away for any reason, and I’m always there when there’s an art opening, symphony concert or play going on. I do more things outdoors than will fit here.

I’m a big kidder and am always fooling around. I think I’m a seven year old who’s managed to sneak into a grown-up’s body. I have enough enthusiasm for an entire class of second graders.

I lived in La Jolla, California from 1988 to 2011. La Jolla is just north of of San Diego and is the most beautiful place on earth with high-speed Internet access and direct international airline service to interesting places. Our area also offers unlimited outdoor recreational opportunities, since we have every kind of land and water form imaginable. We have mountains, deserts, pine forests, cliffs, chaparral, grassy plains, ancient oak groves, huge boulder fields for climbing, every kind of road and trail for hiking, on- and off-road cycling and motorcycling and of course we have all sorts of different beaches and rivers for surfing, swimming, SCUBA, boogie boarding, kayaking and etc.

These many different environments are why San Diego County is home to more bird and animal species than any other county in the United States. Maybe it’s also why every sort of kook organization including at least two UFO cult religions, Unarius and Heaven’s Gate as well as the famous Black’s (nude) Beach call San Diego home. Poke all the fun you want, but we also have a symphony orchestra, a pretty decent formal opera company and numerous theatre and chamber music ensembles and performing arts organizations. The La Jolla Music Society brings in music and dance from around the world. San Diego is also home to the World Famous San Diego Zoo and the Wild Animal Park which runs big game photo safaris right here in San Diego county. I could go on, but rest assured there is never any shortage of fun here. Most real San Diegans are members of the San Diego Zoo.

In 2011, I moved my family back to New York, since New York makes much more sense for doing what I do. Nikon, Canon and every other camera maker has its USA offices on Long Island near where I was born, and the world’s biggest and best camera stores, as well as the press offices for all the camera makers, are all in New York City. It feels great to be back in New York!

I donate my time to many volunteer organizations. For instance, I volunteer as webmaster for The Monarch Program and am always photographing for organizations like Paws’itive Teams who train service dogs for the handicapped.

I don’t believe in photo contests and competitions, although I do OK when friends twist my arm. For instance, I won a trip to Hawaii here and I also won 1st Place in the San Diego Union-Tribune’s Nature Photo Contest here (requires Flash player and a fast Internet connection.)

I received a Ph. D. from the University of Basingstoke in December, 2001. It’s a Phony Doctorate given to me for Christmas by my brothers who have real Ph.Ds.

I speak English, French, some Spanish and very, very little German and Italian. As an artist I try not to admit that I have a BSEE engineering degree and was just granted my first US Patent 6,473,701 in October 2002. On March 6th, 2007, I was granted Statutory Invention Registration H2,184, much rarer than a patent.

Latest tutorials by Ken Rockwell:

Photo Composition Tips
Topic Filter: Commercial / Landscape / Portrait / Stock / What's Hot


Martin Lawrence

After many years as a keen amateur photographer, I decided to start a small landscape photography business called Lakescenes which I ran alongside my main job as an IT Manager. As business increased, I found myself working long, but rewarding, hours just to keep up […]

Read More

Rob Sheppard

Rob Sheppard is a naturalist, nature photographer and videographer who says his favorite location is the one he is in at any time. He is the author/photographer of over 40 books, as well as a well-known speaker and workshop leader, and a Fellow with the […]

Read More

Gary Hart

Gary Hart has photographed California’s natural beauty for over 30 years. Gary’s photos and writing have appeared in many publications, most recently Outdoor Photographer and Sierra Heritage magazines. You’ll also find his images in greeting cards, postcards, calendars, and many galleries and private collections throughout the world.

Read More

Jaroslav Wieczorkiewicz

Originally from Poland, based in London UK, Jaroslav has background in Fine Arts, degree in Architecture, and wide array of experience. Being an Architect taught him how to be resourceful and to solve complex problems with simple, yet innovative solutions. Constant passion for graphic & […]

Read More

What's Hot

7 Pro Tips for Better Portraits

We asked portraits pros to share their best tactics for framing up a subject. Many decisions go into shooting a single portrait. Often, as we chat with our subjects, we’re not even aware that we’re making choices about framing, subject distance and position, color palette, […]

Read More

Photoshop: Color that packs a punch

I like to see lovely saturated color in my photos but sometimes the color I capture just doesn’t do justice to the subject and it isn’t what I remember the scene looked like. Boosting the color can turn a lackluster image into one that totally […]

Read More

Improve Your Shots by Getting Closer

Getting low and tilting your camera up can help too. One of photography’s most honored axioms states: If your picture stinks, get closer. And while this makes for a trusty guide for improving a shot, getting close is only half the story. Getting low and […]

Read More