David LaBelle, an internationally known photographer, teacher, author and speaker, grew up on a frog farm in Oak View, California, exploring the creeks and hills with two sisters and two brothers and numerous dogs.
He began his photojournalism career as a weekend sports-shooter and lab man at the Ventura County Star-Free Press in California while still in high school.
During his 40-year career, David has worked for a mix of 20 different newspapers and magazines. He has also worked at four universities across the United States.
David has won hundreds of national photography awards. At age 19, he was the youngest ever to win the National Press Photographers Association’s Region 10 Photographer of the Year. But the two awards he cares most about are Special Recognition as Runner-up to W. Eugene Smith in the 1974 Nikon World Understanding award and The International Understanding Through Photography Award in 2002 given by The Photographic Society of America Inc. The award’s judges said, “LaBelle’s background and accomplishments in photography have contributed to greater understanding among people everywhere.”
David has been a college professor for 20 years. In 1991, he was recognized as NPPA’s Teacher of the Year for outstanding contribution to education. Before teaching at Kent State, he taught at Weber University, Western Kentucky University and the University of Kentucky (where he was an adviser for the award-winning University of Kentucky newspaper). Seven of his former students have been on Pulitzer Prize-winning photo teams.
David has written four books. In 1989, LaBelle published the first edition of “The Great Picture Hunt,” a visual how-to book about finding feature pictures. This popular book is has been used by newspapers and colleges across the country and Canada since its first printing in 1989. In 1995, David wrote the second edition of “The Great Picture Hunt.” LaBelle is also the author of the book “Lessons in Death and Life,” which was published in 1992 and deals with the ethics of photographing grief. In 2009, David wrote “I Don’t Want to Know All That Technical Stuff, I Just Want to Shoot Pictures,” which is a book about basic photography skills designed for beginners. He also writes monthly columns for Ruralite magazine.
David has become a popular seminar speaker for conferences. In a lively presentation, he will offer not just one, but ten sure-fire tips to help the audience shoot better, more interesting newspaper and yearbook photos. A few places David has spoken include: The Pittsburgh Conference, The Atlanta Seminar on Photojournalism, The Southern Short Course, NPPA’s Flying Short Course, and the Society of Professional Journalists’ National Convention.
Today, David is the Director of Photojournalism at Kent State University and also teaches photojournalism classes. He lives in the city of Kent with his wife Erin and their two sons, Tucker and Henry.