Byron Motley

Byron Motley was born in Kansas City, Mo. but the first time he stepped off the plane in Cuba he knew he was home. He talks with Steve Kraske about expressing his love for the country and its people in his book Embracing Cuba

Courtesy Wabaunsee County Historical Society

It's a familiar sight around rural Kansas: Some old, falling-down building, obviously abandoned long ago.

One of those buildings was in Volland, which can’t be even be considered a town — it's just four houses (three of which are empty), a boarded-up white building and an old brick store about an hour and a half west of Kansas City, just beyond the town of Alma (population 800).

Julie Denesha / KCUR

Cicadas sing the rhythm of late summer as plein air painter Patrick Saunders and his wife, photographer Kimberly Saunders, sit at a picnic table beneath the shade of a tent — the living room in their new life together.

Photographer Lara Shipley discusses Devil's Promenade, her photo series that depicts life in the Ozarks, where she grew up.

Judith G. Levy

For her installation at La Esquina as part of an exhibit called Disturbances in the Field, artist Judith G. Levy tells succinct family stories, focusing on disconnects.

There's the stark contrast between the side of her family that supported Nazi Germany and the side that had to flee Nazi Germany. And what about the gap between her great-uncle's wife's appearance and the family's insistence that she was a Sephardic Jew, rather than Ethiopian?

Ashley Gilbertson

When heading into a war zone, not many choose a camera over a rifle. This edition of Up To Date explores the lives of two war photographers who covered conflict in Iraq, Afghanistan, and in the States. 


The oldest culture on the planet, Aboriginals have inhabited the Australian continent for more than 50,000 years. National Geographic photographer  Amy Toensing spent three years documenting their lives and captured how their ancient tradition lives on in the modern world. 

Hear More: Amy Toensing speaks Tuesday, March 17 at 7:30 at the Muriel Kauffman Theatre. For information and tickets, click here.

Courtesy Photo / Dick Berkley

In his 12-year tenure as Kansas City mayor, Dick Berkley met hundreds of celebrities, sports stars, and political figures. Fortunately, he never went anywhere without his camera.

“I’m so lucky. I just can’t emphasize how fortunate I’ve been to have the ability travel and meet these people, and take a little opportunity when it was in front of me to take somebody’s picture,” Berkley told Steve Kraske on Up To Date.

Suzanne Opton / The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art

In the photograph, a young soldier with a downy blond buzz-cut lies perfectly still, face down on the ground. On stage, an ancient Greek warrior goes through the four stages of events that lead to post-traumatic stress.

The arts community is asking big questions about the life of the soldier. What role does art play in public discourse around combat?


Lara Shipley

Photographer Lara Shipley's image, "Believer," is currently looming over 43rd and Main on the H&R Block Artspace Project Wall in Kansas City, Mo. She says her series of photographs, Devil's Promenade, is a reflection on life in the Ozarks, where she grew up.

Conflict On Camera

Dec 9, 2014
Istituto per la storia del Risorgimento Italiano, Rome

President Obama's recent call for police body cameras raises questions about documenting truth. An art curator, a war historian and a police major discuss. 


Paul Andrews

Kansas City photographer Paul Andrews has committed himself to taking a photograph a day for all of 2014. He's been posting the photos online as he goes, and his project has gained a local following by way of social media.

Matt Herron

Thursday's Up to Date brings the never before told story of powerful events witnessed by five young photographers during the momentous summer of 1964 in the segregated South. Guest host Brian Ellison talks with Matt Herron, one of the photographers and author of Mississippi Eyes: The Story and Photography of the Southern Documentary Project, "the only book to provide a firsthand account of what it was actually like to photograph the civil rights struggle in the Deep South."

Esther Honig, Before and After

A young Kansas City journalist named Esther Honig, who contributes to KCUR, had an idea for a project.

She sent a simple, straightforward portrait of herself to Photoshoppers around the globe with a request to make her beautiful. She wanted to see what that would mean to people in different parts of the world, investigating how culturally specific definitions of beauty might play into the results.

Courtesy photo /

When our contributor, Esther Honig, asked graphic artists at 25 countries to “make me beautiful,” she didn’t expect her cross-cultural examination of beauty to go viral.

Using Photoshop, the artists all manipulated Honig’s raw image to their country’s ideal. (See a slideshow.)  

This weekend, 'near space explorers' will be gathering  in Hutchinson, Kan. for the annual Great Plains Super Launch.  They are hobbyists who launch weather balloons and track their progress using GPS or HAM radio.

On Thursday's Central Standard, we talk with participant John Flaig who uses these balloons to take dramatic photographs from the upper reaches of the atmosphere.


John Flaig, near space photographer

John Flaig

When most people pick a hobby, it's usually something simple like knitting or playing a sport recreationally. With John Flaig's hobby, it's a little more complicated.

Flaig and over 70 others like him will gather in Hutchinson, Kan., this weekend to practice "near space ballooning" or "ham ballooning."

The hobbyists send helium filled weather balloons into near space, which is between 60,000 and 328,000 feet above sea level.

Flaig's balloon has several cameras inside a Styrofoam payload box, taking pictures from all angles and altitudes along the way.

Jodi Cobb

National Geographic photographer Jodi Cobb travels great distances to discover the secret realms of world culture. She has documented fascinating visual stories about many subjects, including the quirky nature of twins, the hidden lives of Saudi Arabian women and Japanese geishas.

Julie Denesha / KCUR

A winter storm was brewing on Friday afternoon, and expected to bring snow and ice to the Kansas City metro area. At Gass Camera Repair, the electronic door chime rang periodically - not with the arrival of customers, but as box after box was loaded onto a trailer waiting just outside.

Since 1979, in this small shop in Mission, Kan., Clarence Gass repaired cameras of all shapes and sizes. Friday was his final day of business.

A 'natural curiosity' about cameras

Greg Heisler

Photographer Gregory Heisler admits that the process of making a portrait is fraught with unease.

The sitter, Heisler says, doesn't want to face reality. For the photographer, that's all there is.

Greg Heisler has spent a quarter century photographing covers for Time, Life and Sports Illustrated.

A homeless shelter might seem an unlikely place to look for the hopes and dreams of children, but for one photographer, it's a way to shine a light for children stuck in bad situations.

Laura Spencer / KCUR

In the exhibition Laura McPhee: River of No Return at the Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art, the more than two dozen photographs - each six by eight feet - loom large. McPhee's series explores the grandeur of the West, tensions between ranchers and environmentalists, and human impact on the land - and its often unintended consequences. 

Growing up McPhee

Gloria Baker Feinstein

It was just last year when Gloria Baker Feinstein and her husband had to move out of their house and into a condo, and get rid of many their possessions.

"It's not stuff," she said. "Everything had a reason. Everything had a memory. Everything felt really dear to me."

The couple had an estate sale, and Feinstein, a photographer, decided to document each item as it left her house. But the endeavor quickly turned into a different project -- one that is now on display in a local gallery.

Juan Montana

The cultures of Kansas and Missouri was shaped by wave after wave of immigrants: from Germany, Ireland, Italy and Eastern Europe. A new exhibit called, The Missouri Immigrant Experience: Faces and Places portrays vivid images of the state’s diverse immigrants from the early nineteenth century to today.  The exhibit was sponsored by the Missouri Immigrant and Refugee Advocates (MIRA), a coalition of organizations that advocates for immigrants.

Mike Sinclair

Two Kansas Citians were announced yesterday as winners of this year's very prestigious Guggenheim Fellowships.

Catherine Karnow

From the Australian Outback to Bollywood, Albanian farmland to Vietnam, National Geographic travel photographer Catherine Karnow has been around the world to capture its images with her camera.

Ruth Thorne-Thomsen, American (b. 1943) / Courtesy: Nelson-Aktins Museum of Art

A pinhole camera is a simple tool – and it can be constructed with basic materials. You could even make one at home with your child on a snow day. All you need is cardboard, tape, and aluminum foil. But, it’s the eye behind the camera that draws a line between child’s play and the potential for photography.

Brian Skerry was inspired by National Geographic at a young age but it took several decades for this underwater photographer to land his dream job.

Gil Cohen-Magen

It’s one thing to open up Time magazine and flip through the pages, briefly noticing the images from the latest Middle East conflict. It’s quite another to stand behind the camera.

Gordon Parks' 100th Birthday

Nov 27, 2012

On Wednesday’s Central Standard, we examine the legacy of Gordon Parks; the photographer, essayist, film maker, and native Kansan whose 100th birthday is this Friday.