By Al Southers
Greenlee Web Team
Dennis Chamberlin, assistant professor, joined the Greenlee School this semester and teaches photojournalism. Photo by Jacquie Bransky, Greenlee Web Team.
Dennis Chamberlin, a prize winning photographer, joined the Greenlee School this semester as an assistant professor in visual communication.
Chamberlin, who teaches photojournalism, earned his M.F.A. this year from Indiana University before moving to Ames.
He has worked as a photographer for Newsweek, National Geographic and The New York Times Magazine.
Despite such accomplishments, Chamberlin confessed modest origins.
In seventh grade, “I took pictures of friends, brothers, the dog … By high school I was taking pictures of football games,” Chamberlin said. “When I look back on this stuff I took, it was appalling! … But that’s how you learn.”
When asked what inspires his photography, Chamberlin mentions French Humanism, a 1960s style of photography that is mostly in black and white. “It’s candid. It’s small camera. It captures the glimpses of life.”
Chamberlin’s work has gained him recognition, including being a member of the Pulitzer Prize-winning team at the Fort Wayne News- Sentinel that was honored in 1983 for its coverage of a massive flood in Indiana that forced 20,000 people to evacuate.
Other assignments included working in Kaliningrad, Russia, where Chamberlin was unknowingly followed by the KGB, Russia’s secret police. He later found out he was watched when a government-run newspaper published an article about him. To his surprise, all the information was accurate.
“I hope to inspire them.” Chamberlin said about what he wants to pass on to his students. “A lot of people think it’s about you go and snap pictures … It’s not about that. It’s about having something to say and then you make the pictures to communicate what you have to say.”
Due to the competitive nature of photojournalism, Chamberlin offers advice to students wanting to enter the field.
“Work hard!” Chamberlin said. “If you are not positive that you want to do it, than don’t do it.”
He recommends students have a diverse portfolio when going on interviews and that they try not to use the same photos for every potential job.
The new assistant professor has many exciting goals for his career at Iowa State.
He hopes to attract guest speakers and photo editors from newspapers and publications around the country.
Chamberlin hopes the editors will look at students’ work and give them valuable advice.
If all goes well, Chamberlin anticipates that word will spread about ISU’s program.
“I want the program to be known as a good program to go to,” he said. “I like the possibilities here … I like to be around people who think things can happen.”
To learn more about Chamberlin, please read "Professor spends 15 years photographing Poland."