August 2016



Everyday when we turn on the news we are reminded of how much destruction and cruelty (not to mention stupidity from our own politicians) that the world is exposed to. We see unforgettable images of people who have lost everything due to Mother Nature's wrath like the recent flooding in Louisiana and Mississippi, and the monstrous fires destroying everything in their path in the West. It is hard to comprehend what has become of humanity when watching with horror the shootings around our country, and the barbaric and cowardly terror attack in Nice, France. We can no longer take anything for granted - not that we ever could - but now we are reminded every day how fragile and precious life truly is.

Immediately after sending my last eNewsletter Anne and I made a photographic trip to the Southwest. It had been five years since we last visited this magical part of the country. That is by far the longest period of time without a Southwest trip since my first photographic exploration there in 1980. Within a few hours of making camp in our van on the evening we arrived, we remembered how special the Southwest really is. We are anxious to get back there again soon. We met up with our long-time friends Ken and Tammy Karagozian, who are the caretakers of Ray McSavaney's archives (stay tuned for some great news about Ray's archives in the next eNewsletter!). We explored and photographed together for a few days, and then set off on our own explorations – only to unexpectedly encounter one another on a dirt road "in the middle of nowhere" more than a hundred miles from where we had said goodbye a few days earlier. We enjoyed returning to some of our favorite locations, and exploring some new areas as well. Both Anne and I made a number of negatives and hope we both will have some "keepers" among our many exposures.

We returned home rejuvenated and excited, ready to dive into the darkroom, complete the print orders for the image Lower Cascade, Roaring Fork River, process film and print for our two-person exhibition Inspired by Light: The Photographs of John Sexton and Anne Larsen at the Longview Museum of Arts in Longview, Texas. Well, it did not quite go according to plan. In June I learned that I would need a total knee replacement, and on July 22nd the Soberanes Fire broke out not far from us, causing so much devastation for so many people. I have included more detail below.

Anne and I wish you and your family peace and happiness,




APRIL 4 - 7, 2017

We are pleased to announce that, due to popular demand, we have added an additional session of the Expressive Black and White Print Workshop - April 4 through 9, 2017. There are still some spaces available in this new April session. If you are interested in attending, I suggest that you enroll as soon as possible.


John Sexton Photography Workshops

Desert Holly
Death Valley National Park, California
©1981 John Sexton. All rights reserved.

The Expressive Black and White Print Workshop is probably my favorite workshop to teach, as I feel the quality and quantity of information we present is excellent. I continue to be amazed and humbled by the interest in this traditional analog workshop - now being offered for thirty-four consecutive years. For those of you who have attended my workshops in the past, you realize that the schedule is intense, but enjoyable, and my motto is workshop till you drop!

You can download the complete workshop brochure, as well as the application form here.






It is with great disappointment that Anne and I have come to the difficult decision to postpone our two-person exhibition Inspired by Light: The Photographs of John Sexton and Anne Larsen at the Longview Museum of Arts in Longview, Texas.


John Sexton + Anne Lasen Exhibit Postponed


On our travels back from the Southwest in May I experienced significant pain in my right knee. Friends and long time readers of this eNewsletter might recall that I had a partial left knee replacement almost five years ago. I originally injured my right knee in 1985 and have had a number of surgeries over the years to repair the damage of the initial injury, as well as re-injury. I knew I would need a new knee at some point, but had not anticipated in any way that it would be happening this year. I did not fall or knowingly injure my knee on this trip, but the pain I was experiencing on our return was not reduced by pain medication, icing, and other procedures I have used effectively over the years. Instead it got worse. This led me to a visit with my orthopedic surgeon – the same fellow who did my initial surgery almost thirty-one years ago. It turns out that I will be having a total knee replacement in early November, shortly after we return from our annual Mono Lake workshop with Charlie Cramer.

Regrettably the pain in my knee has made it difficult to work in the darkroom for extended periods of time. Though Anne and I normally do not work in the darkroom together, she is now assisting me in terms of processing of my prints, as well as toning and washing the prints, for which I am most grateful. In spite of our best efforts, we could quickly see this was going to limit our planned productivity this summer in preparing new work we had both planned on including in the exhibition.

I contacted Tiffany Jehorek, the Acting Director of the Museum, to explain our situation. She most graciously suggested the possibility of postponing the exhibition. As disappointing as this was, we realized it was the right thing to do. The museum was already booked for 2017, so the new dates for our exhibition together are October 13 through December 15, 2018.

We will be traveling to Longview for an artist reception, and there will be a public lecture, as well as an all-day seminar in November of 2018. We will provide more details as the event draws closer. We apologize to those who were enrolled in the all-day seminar and to those who were planning to attend the reception or the public lecture. Hopefully we will all be able to rendezvous in 2018, and the exhibition will be even better because of the additional time available to make photographs and prints between now and then.





As I was preparing the content for this eNewsletter the Chimney, Clayton, and Blue Cut wildfires erupted in California. I questioned whether to include our own experience with the ongoing Soberanes Fire, as our outcome was so much more positive than many others. I decided to include our experiences as so many eNews subscribers sent us thoughtful email messages wishing us the best - which we both very much appreciate. I hope that our story, which has a happy ending, might provide some perspective on the great challenges that many are currently experiencing in the numerous wildland fires burning in California and the West. There are currently more than 10,000 firefighters battling 8 large wildfires in California.

Early on the morning of July 22nd a wlidfire was reported a little over two miles up the Soberanes Canyon Trail, which it turns out was started by an illegal campfire. For those of you who have visited the area, this is not far from beautiful Garrapata Beach, where photographer Morley Baer lived for a number of years, and Cole and Brett Weston also had nearby homes. The fire grew rapidly due to changing wind conditions, and its remote location with limited access and extremely difficult terrain. Luckily Cole Weston's home (now owned by the Weston Family) was not damaged, though the fire got very close.


Soberanes Fire

Soberanes Fire Sky From Our Deck
©2016 John Sexton. All rights reserved.

Unfortunately fifty-seven homes were destroyed in the Palo Colorado area during the first few days of the fire. The fire began to move northward and headed toward the Carmel Highlands where Kim and Gina Weston, Bob and Sharon Kolbrener, as well as Michael and Jeanne Adams, all have homes. Fortunately the firefighters were successful in protecting the Highlands area. Point Lobos State Reserve was closed for a few days. Then the fire began to move to the east and to the south. It was headed our way with the active fire line reaching as close as 4.2 miles from our home and studio, and a successful tactical back burn operation bringing the fire as close as 2.4 miles. More than 5,600 firefighters were battling the blaze at one point. As I am writing this there are over 3,000 firefighters still fighting the fire, which has now reached an area of over 77,000 acres, and is 60% contained.

As the fire started to push in our direction we began sorting, organizing, packing, and making daily trips to a storage facility we have near Monterey. In addition, we reorganized materials in our fireproof semi-subterranean vault and "filled it to the gills." We even designed and added steel reinforcement to the entry area in case the fire raged through our canyon - which could have easily happened had the wind conditions been different. Fortunately the firefighters did a great job, and thousands on the Monterey Peninsula, including us, appreciate their heroic efforts.

One afternoon we were surprised to hear the clunking of bulldozers as they were carving in a contingency fire line on the ridge directly above our home. Over the next few days dozens of hardworking firefighters (including some from the Inyo National Forest - where we conduct our annual Mono Lake workshop) hand-cut the fire line through extremely difficult terrain into the canyon just one quarter mile from our home. We watched them for two days uniting their hand line with the much wider dozer lines on the ridges above Hitchcock Canyon. Fortunately we did not have to evacuate our house and we did not reach the warning level. Our neighborhood would have been the next to go to warning had the fire crossed one of the primary fire lines. Sadly we have a number of friends and acquaintances that lost everything in Big Sur.


Soberanes Fire

Hand Crew Cutting Fire Line in Rugged Terrain
Soberanes Fire
©2016 Mike Morales. All rights reserved.

Yes - these past weeks were stressful for Anne and me, but it completely fades in comparison with those who have lost everything. We are so fortunate to have our home, studio, and the lifestyle we have enjoyed here for so long. The thick smoke, the fallen ash, the constant drone of helicopters overhead (the helibase and fueling area was just two miles from our house), as well as the roar of small and large air tankers (click here to see a video by Keith Vandevere of a DC-10 Very Large Air Tanker make a retardant drop on the Soberanes Fire) all now a memory of how quickly everything can be taken away. Our hearts go out to all who have lost their homes in the fires that are now blazing in so many parts of California as well natural disasters elsewhere in the country. We hope the very best for those whose homes and properties might be threatened. We thank the firefighters for their heroic efforts, and we hope the best for their safety as they continue to attempt to control and contain these "beasts," as we heard a Cal Fire firefighter refer to these fires.


Soberanes Fire

DC-10 Very Large Air Tanker Retardant Drop
Soberanes Fire
Photography by Santa Clara, California Firefighter Brett Gainey
©2016 Brett Gainey. All rights reserved.

There are so many people that have experienced what we had feared - the loss of our home and many treasure possessions. Anne and I know that a number of the individuals that lost everything in the Soberanes Fire need assistance, and there are many thousands of people dealing with similar tragedies around the country. If your situation would allow you to make a donation to the Red Cross, or any local charity assisting those in need from these disasters it certainly would be a great help to those that are suffering at this time.





I first met Mark Citret over forty years ago at Ansel’s 1973 Yosemite workshop. I was a student and Mark was an assistant on the workshop staff. I have always had a great respect for Mark as a photographer, and we have remained friends ever since. Mark has a beautiful new book out, Parallel Landscapes, and we are pleased to announce that autographed copies are available for sale at our Ventana Editions online store along with Mark’s first book, Along the Way.


Parallel Landscapes by Mark Citret


You may purchase a signed copy of Parallel Landscapes for $55.00
at the Ventana Editions online story by clicking here.

Parallel Landscapes is a collection of forty-seven stunning warm tone black and white photographs of the landscape of Mark’s dreams: a massive construction site in southwest San Francisco. The images were distilled from more than 100 photographs made between 1990 and 1993. During that time Mark chronicled the metamorphosis of the construction site from the excavation to the foundation, walls, columns, and enclosed rooms, and finally to a series of cavernous chambers. Each photograph in the book was made with a 4x5 view camera using Kodak T-Max 100 film and printed by hand in a traditional darkroom. Through Mark’s insightful eye he transports the viewer into mysterious and haunting environments both interior and exterior that transcend the utilitarian nature of the subject in front of the camera. In these images, in my opinion, Mark has truly made photographs, rather than simply taking pictures.


Parallel Landscapes by Mark Citret

Temporary Railing
©1991 Mark Citret. All rights reserved.

For those in the San Francisco Bay Area Mark has two upcoming events that may be of interest to you. He will be presenting a lecture and doing a book signing at The Image Flow in Mill Valley, California on Thursday, September 8th at 7:00 pm. More information can be found here. In addition, Mark will be having an exhibition of work from the book at the Rayko Photo Center in Berkeley, California from September 14 through October 14, 2016. There will be an opening reception and book signing with Mark on September 14th from 6:00 to 8:00 pm. More information can be found here.




In 1996, Sarah Spencer published the book Gift of the Commonplace in celebration of Ruth’s 90th birthday in conjunction with the Center for Photographic Art in Carmel. Ruth had an amazing gift to transform prosaic subjects into images of unforgettable beauty that inspire and reveal a sense of reverence for the subjects. Whether Ruth was photographing Lifesavers, drinking straws, a teapot which had been run over in the street, shells, a simple rag hanging in the sun, or the doorknob of her bedroom, she somehow could see beneath the surface of the subject to discover and reveal the timeless beauty within. As Ruth said about her many decades in photography, “I cannot imagine a more precious gift than the discovery that I was destined to become a photographer. It all happened so effortlessly, without a stone in the road…my work became my life.”.

Gift of the Commonplace by Ruth Berhard

You may purchase Gift of the Commonplace for $40.00
at the Ventana Editions online story by clicking here.

Along with Ruth’s wonderful images, there is an insightful and touching essay by Ruth’s long-time friend and past photographic assistant Michael Kenna. The photographs span a period of thirty-four years and include some never before published images and unique prints.

Please note that this book is NOT signed by Ruth. I only mention this because most of the books available at the Ventana Editions online store are signed by the photographers. The two exceptions being Ruth’s Gift of the Commonplace and Ray McSavaney’s handsome book, Explorations.


Gift of the Commonplace by Ruth Bernhard

©2016 Ruth Bernhard. All rights reserved.

Ruth Bernhard was a great inspiration to me. I first met her in 1974 when I attended a small workshop she taught in Southern California in 1974. Those three days had a dramatic impact on my photography, and Ruth and I remained friends over the decades until she went to fly with the angels (Ruth’s words) on December 18, 2006 at age 101 plus!

When I took over as Director of Ansel’s Yosemite Workshops I suggested to Ansel that we invite his long-time friend Ruth Bernhard as one of the instructors. He enthusiastically agreed. Ruth was a great addition to the staff, and continued teaching at Ansel’s workshops after we moved them from Yosemite to the Monterey Peninsula. During the late night critique sessions I would send students that I thought needed inspiration to show their prints to Ruth. Little did I know that she was doing the same with students she thought could use some help with the technical aspects of photography. One evening at dinner we got the idea to do a workshop together. The workshop title was based upon a portfolio that Ruth had done entitled, Gift of the Commonplace. We taught that workshop together nine times at our home and studio in Carmel Valley, California. I continue to hear from people who were inspired by the amazing workshop experience we all shared together with Ruth.




Subscribe to John's newsletter

Go to Newsletter Archive


John Sexton
Post Office Box 2338
Carmel Valley, CA 93924
Voice: 831-659-3130
Fax: 831-659-5509


If you are receiving this message in error, please accept our apologies. If you prefer not to receive future email updates from us, just send a quick note with your email address to: and we'll take care of it. We respect your privacy, and do not disclose email information to outside mailers.

Copyright © 2016

John Sexton. All rights reserved.

Back to: