Part 1: A Road with Many Forks

“Photography is a love affair with life.”
— Burk Uzzle, photographer

My artwork is inspired by the many twists and turns my career and life have taken after I discovered photography in high school. From photography education, to photojournalism, to urban planning, to landscape architecture, and back again. Creating artwork has been a constant parallel through out it all. Art has influenced each of my next pursuits. My life is about stories and creating visual work that improves the human existence.

My only formal education in photography is a semester-long high school class. I still don’t have a clear picture (pun intended) why exactly I took the course. But I loved it. We were one of the only schools in the city that still actively used their darkroom. I loved the process of making visual art in the field, developing prints, and showing my work to the world. Immediately I started taking journalism classes and bought my first digital camera shortly after the semester.

Photography ignited my interest in people and place. I was deeply interested in documenting and showcasing life—in its moments of mundane and important, sad and happy, routine and special.

After high school I went to Kansas State University to pursue photojournalism. Although not well-known, the journalism program had been a hot-bed of talent for decades. Alumni are working at the highest levels in the industry around the world including National Geographic photographer Jim Richardson, White House photographer Pete Souza, New York Times contributors, and TIME Magazine contributors. I learned first-hand from Jim Richardson, Rich Clarkson, Andy Nelson, and others.

The first fork in the road came a few years into my education. I transitioned away from pursuing photojournalism as a career. I was in school in the midst of the financial crisis of 2008 and word in the industry was beyond bleak; I think it influenced everyone’s decision-making in the journalism programs at the university. Instead, I pursued my career interests in city growth, urban morphology, and city planning. I continued to work part-time for Student Publications and began to specialize in sports photography. Sports photography was about emotion and documenting the quickest of significant moments: a game-winning catch happens in an instant. I traveled the country documenting Kansas State sports teams for Student Publications and had work featured by The Associated Press, USA Today, Kansas State University, and many other national and regional publications.
After graduation I moved to Denver, Colorado and worked as a school planner for two years. But I yearned to create visual works and contribute tangible impacts on communities rather than the more theory- and analytical-based planning profession. Landscape architecture/urban design fit the bill so I went back to school to pursue a design degree. My background in storytelling and journalism lended a unique lens to the profession and significantly impacted my approach to the work. During my career as a designer I have been fortunate to work for industry-leading firms working at the highest levels.

But through it all I continued to make visual art—not for others, but for me.

As a journalist-turned-designer, the driving interest in my work is to unify the ethical and documentary obligations of journalism (storytelling) and its common ground with the projective, forward-thinking obligations of the design fields (futuretelling)."

Jonathan Knight