Gregory Halpern

Gregory Halpern has published three books of photographs, including A (J&L Books, 2011), Omaha Sketchbook (J&L Books, 2009), and Harvard Works Because We Do (Quantuck Lane, 2003). He is also the editor, along with Jason Fulford, of The Photographer’s Playbook: Over 250 Assignments and Ideas (Aperture, 2014). He holds a B.A. in history and literature from Harvard University and an M.F.A. from California College of the Arts, and he has taught photography at a number of schools, including Harvard University, California College of the Arts, University of California, Berkeley, School of the Museum of Fine Arts, and the Rochester Institute of Technology, where he currently teaches. He is currently working on a book of photographs from California (forthcoming from J&L Books) as well as a collaborative book of photographs with Ahndraya Parlato, to be published by Études Books later this year.

(circa 2014)

BirthplaceBuffalo, NY
CitizenshipUnited States
Cultural HeritageAmerican
Light Work RelationshipArtist-in-Residence, 2013
Fine Print Program, 2016
Light Work PublicationsContact Sheet 182




Gregory Halpern’s recent work in California is strangely refreshing in its celebratory optimism. In this work there are moments of powerful and simple wonder concerning California now.

He has written that he wants “his photographs to reflect the incomprehensible complexity of the state” and in this statement I think he (unwittingly?) puts his finger on his work’s greatest strengths.

What you can recognize from this work is his straightforward empathy and compassion for Californians in their dealing with everyday life  —  and how tellingly he does this for those who are just overwhelmed.

I have written elsewhere how traditional American landscape photography has become a rather moribund photographic trope, how a sanctified, cliched reverence has become the norm. In Halpern’s California work, I see him removing himself from the comforts of the past and endeavoring to strike out afresh, rethinking his conditioning and antecedents to break free of this particular mold.

He is not a naïve photographer. He is both worldly and sophisticated and, for whatever complex reasons, seems able to connect with this massive subject in ways that others cannot.

Chris Killip 

Chris Killip has published six books of photographs and is a professor of photography at Harvard University. 


Gregory Halpern lives in Rochester, NY, and completed his residency at Light Work in August 2014.