NDSU hosting Leo Kim virtual program, online exhibit

Devils Lake Journal

Fargo, N.D., April 19 – NDSU Libraries are set to host a virtual program celebrating the life and work of distinguished photographer and former NDSU student Leo Kim. Local photographers who were inspired by Kim will discuss his achievements and his impact on photography in the community.

Leo Kim Virtual Prog And Exhibit.

The virtual event is scheduled for Thursday, April 22, at noon via Zoom. Community members can email lindsay.condry@ndsu.edu to get the Zoom link.

Panel chair is Ross Collins, NDSU professor of communication, former photojournalist and co-editor of “Photocommunication Across Media.” Panelists include Colburn Hvidston III, retired photojournalist, former photo department manager at The Forum of Fargo-Moorhead for 35 years, and former president of the National Press Photographers Association; Dan Koeck, freelance editorial photographer and former NDSU University Relations photographer for 24 years; Dave Samson, photographer with The Forum for the past 15 years and the West Fargo Pioneer/Midweek publications for 25 years; and Dave Wallis, The Forum photographer for 40 years with a 50-year career in news and sports photography.

"Leo Kim was one of the very most influential people in my life,” Wallis said. “He had an extremely high bar of quality. He would spend so much time working to make a photograph no matter whether the subject was a machine part or a landscape. Unlike so many images today that are 'Photoshopped' to an extreme, Leo believed in presenting an image as it actually was, without manipulating the image afterwards. It's wonderful that his legacy is being archived and made available for viewing."

Kim's collection of photographs, negatives, slides, and records was donated to the NDSU Archives in 2019. The upcoming virtual program coincides with a new online exhibit “A Photographic Journey: The Life & Work of Leo Kim,” which shares details of his life and examples of his work from the “Leo Kim Photograph Collection.” The online exhibit was created by NDSU Department of Communication graduate student Noah Petters with assistance from NDSU Archives volunteer Mike Smith and NDSU Libraries staff members.

Next fall, an in-person exhibition of Kim’s work is planned at NDSU’s Memorial Union Gallery, with a corresponding event during NDSU Homecoming Week 2021.

Leo Kim was born in 1946 and lived his early life in Hong Kong, Macao and Austria. At the age of 22, he immigrated to the U.S. and decided to live in North Dakota because of the advertised low cost of living, college tuition and wide-open spaces. As a student, he took photos for NDSU’s student newspaper, The Spectrum and worked on the 1971-1972 Bison Annual. He worked at The Forum and The Standing Rock Star in Fort Yates, North Dakota. Kim then lived in the Minneapolis area doing freelance and commercial work.

By the end of his career, he had produced about 3,607 prints, 29,966 negatives and 11,400 slides. "I try to look at things as though I've never seen them before. I try to see them for the first time,” Kim once said. I strive not to be influenced by other people's preconceptions of how things ought to look."

K. William Boyer is the Managing Editor of the Devils Lake News Journal. He can be reached at kboyer@gannett.com, or by phone at (701) 662-2127.  

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