Always a Panther: Photography Skills Take Alumni’s Art Around the World


Kirk Crippens

Kirk Crippens’ love for photography started early in life. Influenced by his father, who was a photographer in the military, Kirk saved money earned from his first job to purchase a camera.

Now, Kirk’s photography is world famous. His prints have been shown in exhibits in Italy, Spain, Germany, England, Scotland, China and South Korea. Here in the United States, his prints are held by the Smithsonian Institution along with other museums across the country.

Kirk’s photography career started while he was still a student at Duncanville High School. He took photos for the school newspaper, yearbook and worked for a local newspaper.

Kirk said he was thrilled to find out he could take high school classes that would teach him how to refine his photography skills and to make prints in a darkroom. He said he took those classes as soon as he was eligible to enroll and then found his niche when he joined the yearbook staff. The sponsor at the time was Mary Pulliam.

“She saw my passion and interest and she gave me the platform to grow that,” Kirk said.  “We became very close as a staff. They became my extended family. I’m forever grateful to Mary Pulliam and the program she put together. I’m very proud of the work we put out when I was there.”

Kirk graduated from Duncanville High School in 1989 and attended college at The University of Texas at Austin. He moved to San Francisco in 2001 on what he described as a lark – intending to stay just a few months to sublease a friend’s apartment – but 20 years later, he’s still living there.

“The photography community out here is vibrant, and the history in San Francisco is second to none,” Kirk said.

Kirk has worked as a commercial photographer, but these days he’s a vice president of operations for a publishing company. He said having a regular job helps him to preserve his creative energy for his own photography.

“I work on these long-term projects on my own because I want to do them with my own resources,” Kirk said.

Kirk has already published two books and is in the final stages of producing a third. The photography reflects what he saw in his community during the pandemic, including businesses that were struggling and office buildings that were closed down. Kirk observed and photographed subtle reminders of the people who had occupied those spaces prior to pandemic.

“I found a mylar balloon that was still floating. A red Valentine’s Day heart that had come off the string six months later and floated to the ceiling,” Kirk said.

Kirk’s book, titled ‘So Long,’ is expected to be released in October

“It’s like a song all woven together about this time we all survived,” Kirk said.

For more information about Kirk and his photography, click here.