Sunday, June 17, 2018
Human Interest

All Eyes: 10 questions with … Times staff photographer John Pendygraft

'Ten questions' is an occasional feature in which Tampa Bay Times photographers share some of their thoughts about photography and photojournalism, as well as some of their favorite images.

Today we are featuring John Pendygraft, a staff photographer who has been with the Times since 1997.

When did your love of photography begin?

When I was about 10, a neighbor gave me a Petri 7 35mm camera he had purchased in the 60s while overseas in the Navy. It had dust all over it and had been sitting for years in a cabinet. I shot a roll of film jumping on the bed with my friends. Of course they all had motion blur, but a few of them had this really cool ghostly look to them. They showed me something in a way I didn't expect. For whatever reason, that hooked me.

ALL EYES: View more of our photo galleries in our All Eyes blog

In high school National Geographic had a story by David Allen Harvey abut a season in minor league baseball. Most of it was shot following the Diablos, where I lived, in El Paso, Texas. I thought (probably correctly) El Paso is the most boring place on earth. Seeing my home town through a National Geographic photographers eyes was a magic thing. I wanted to see my world like that.

What do you like best about being a photojournalist?

Effective photography works in universals.

What's the toughest part about being a photojournalist?

There are long periods in the creative process when you are putting tons of energy into something and nothing is happening. I once saw a graph in how much energy it takes to move water from ice to liquid. There is this long plateau where energy is going in and absolutely nothing happens. Then, bang, it gets to a certain point and things change state.

Those long periods when you are trying your best to get to the next level, or pull a story together, can be challenging.

What kind of images would you say you specialize in, if any?

Working for the Times is awesome. I mostly do features, but also get to do breaking news, fashion, sports…you name it.

What's the craziest thing that has ever happened to you on an assignment?

I promise I'm not just copping out of this question, but in complete honesty, there are just too many to even get started. Dozens come to mind, and there just isn't room!

Who are your favorite photographers?

Sebastio Salgado, Jim Nachtwey, William Albert Allard, David Guttenfelder, Peter and David Turnley, Alex Webb, John Stanmeyer, James Stanfield, Reza, David Alan Harvey, David Doubilet, Jodi Cobb, Sam Abell…there are really just so many….

Do you have a personal website or blog where you display your work?

You can follow me on Twitter: @pendygraft and

What do you like to do to unwind and recharge?

A slow Sunday with my wife and daughter just can't be beat.

Lastly, can you share some of your favorite images with us, and tell us what makes them special to you?

Here are a few images I grabbed from my website. When I look at them, I remember the time of my life when I took them and I think about how a college friend once explained her poetry. It is not who she is, but who she was for a moment.


(August 17, 2005) A Jewish settler is removed from his home as friends and family pray and sing from the rooftop of his home, as the Israeli army evacuated the Neve Dekalim settlement in Gush Katif.



(September 2, 2005) A family trying to get a woman in a wheelchair into the Superdome is hindered by an incoming helicopter outside the Superdome in New Orleans.


(July 27, 2006) Eayad Afana, 16, is pictured near the rubble of their family home in Jabalea. The house was next to a home targeted by an Israeli missile strike that left six of the neighboring homes destroyed.


(October 30, 2006) Mentally ill women are kept behind bars at an Edhi Foundation center for the mentally ill in Karachi, Pakistan.


(July 24, 2007) A woman and her child (who did not wish to give their names) walk along the Malecon in Old Havana.


(February 16, 2009) Children salvage designer tile from a home in the Abed Rabbo neighborhood of Gaza.


(February 25, 2011) Stacy Nicholson, 29, is comforted by her mother, Sherry Alkire, 49, as she says goodbye to her cousin in late February after he overdosed on prescription drugs. Frankie Herrera, 32, had been living and abusing pain pills with Stacy before she went to jail.


(August 12, 2013) Florida Panther. Photographed at Wildlife Rescue & Rehabilitation, Inc.


(February 16, 2014) Underwater fashion shoot for Bay Magazine.


(July 10, 2015) Tonya Cook poses recently with a police evidence photo taken the day she was attacked during her shift at North Florida Evaluation and Treatment Center in 2012. "Everybody knows when you go to work in that environment you are never 100 percent safe," Cook says. "There's no security in these buildings at all...there aren't a lot of people who want to work there anymore because of the way these places are run."

John Pendygraft

Twitter/Instagram: @pendygraft

Tampa Bay Times


Visit the Times image archive to license or purchase a reprint of any image shown above.

Here are some previous "10 questions" posts you might enjoy:

Douglas R. Clifford (Published February 19, 2016)

Loren Elliott (Published February 15, 2016)

Zack Wittman (Published February 11, 2016)

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