Ken Whitmire, M.Photog.Cr., F-ASP, who was honored by PPA in 2016 with a Lifetime Achievement Award, has died. He was killed in an automobile accident in November while driving near his home in the Yakama, Washington, area.

Whitmire was born in Bernice, Oklahoma, in 1930, attended the University of Washington, and entered the Navy School of Photography in 1949, where he trained in aerial and documentary photography. After graduating, he worked construction to raise enough money for professional camera equipment, and in 1955 began practicing as a pro.

Over the next six decades, Whitmore’s career flourished: He won more than 100 trophies in photography, earned his master of photography and craftsman degrees from PPA, and served on PPA’s Board of Directors.

Whitmire is best known for his passionate dedication to wall portrait photography and for his desire to buoy the field and individual studios by encouraging photographers to price their work to honor the medium’s true value. His annual Wall Portrait Conference enabled photographers to learn how to create, market, and successfully sell wall portraits. “We must think of our wall portraits as furniture,” he said. “We must not allow our images to be treated frivolously.”

“He was a dynamic force in photography,” says Lance Johnson, M.Photog., who attended Whitmire’s Wall Portrait Conference, which he describes as a labor of love on Whitmire’s part.  “He had a huge influence on my photography and my approach to selling and teaching techniques,” Johnson says.

“He was passionate about the portrait, and the marketing techniques to sell the portrait, and he would always offer incentive for the photographer to value the products they produce. That is one of the biggest legacies he leaves behind.”

The other legacy Whitmore leaves behind is his longstanding love for the history and the preservation of photography. He was heavily involved in and served on the Board of Directors at the International Photography Hall of Fame and Museum in St. Louis, Missouri. In lieu of flowers, his family has asked that donations be made to the Ken Whitmire Program & Education Fund administered by the museum, “his heart and soul.”

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