David Michael Kennedy is a magician of sorts. Tucked into the picturesque high desert hills of New Mexico, is the old village of El Rito, a centuries old community—one of the first places the Spanish settled in northern New Mexico captivated by the landscape and the light which still beckons. El Rito is home to Northern New Mexico College, any number of artists – famous and infamous, and rich cultural traditions honored in Spanish and English. If you’re lucky, you will find photographer, David Michael Kennedy at home in his historic adobe compound. Since the 1970s Kennedy has moved back and forth between New York and New Mexico which a two-and-a-half-year hiatus in a 1960’s airstream “on the road,” photographing the lands and the people he met on his journey with a 4 x 5 camera using Polaroid positive/negative film. Since 2008 Kennedy has made El Rito his home base.

The Kennedy compound has morphed over the years since the artist moved in; what is constant is the darkroom where the magician casts his spells in platinum and palladium – precious metals at his command. Kennedy is well-known for his mastery of the process creating haunting portraits and evocative landscapes. Fittingly, as Kennedy is a wizened and kind old soul with an irrelevantly bawdy sense of humor coupled with a deep respect for the world in front of his camera, platinum and palladium processes were popular in the late 19th century; characterized by an extensive range in values and soft, grey tones. The magic happens when Kennedy manipulates the color both in developing and toning his final prints.

David Michael Kennedy has been making portraits of people for nearly 50 years. Whether of the famous or the obscure, he has the uncanny ability of get his collaborators to reveal a touch of their vulnerability, their humanity – no matter how many layers of resistance their experiences had added to their public personas. Again – that old magic and a gentle touch. Scroll through the portraits on this website – you’ll find memories and magic and more, the importance, especially now, of opening your doors and your heart to whoever knocks. Kennedy’s story unfolds as you explore this website and read his blog revealing who has sat in front of his camera over the years, the lands he has traversed, who exhibits and collects his artwork, what workshop he offers, where you can purchase his prints. All the details behind the magic – which is really just passion and hard work – a commitment to the inner eye.

Mary Anne Redding Curator, Fellow Traveler