Lunchtime Lecture: David Turnley

  • 27/08/14 – 27/08/14
  • Time: 13:00 – 14:00
  • Venue: Commerce Lecture Theatre, Hiddingh Campus, 31 - 37 Orange Street, Gardens, Cape Town
  • Contact: 021 480 7111


The American photojournalist, David Turnley, 59, has been called one of the best documentary photographers in the world. He has photographed the South African struggle and the most important world events over the last three decades.
Winner of the Pulitzer Prize, two World Press Photos of the Year, and the Robert Capa Gold Medal of Courage, David first came to South Africa in 1985, covering the beginning of the State of Emergency. In late 1987 he was expelled from South Africa – the 11th foreign journalist to be asked to leave that year by the apartheid regime.

He was invited back in 1990, given a journalism visa without restrictions after having been persona non grata by that same apartheid regime. David was told that “change was about to occur and that the government wanted people with his kind of credibility to cover that change”. He returned to learn upon arrival that President FW De Klerk was announcing the release of Nelson Mandela on February 11.
David first met the Mandela family, and became a close family friend over the last thirty years, when he was asked by Life Magazine to photograph an essay about Winnie Mandela in 1985.
His work photographing the Mandela family and the transition of the South African struggle from 1985 until present has been published in two books WHY ARE THEY WEEPING: SOUTH AFRICANS UNDER APARTHEID, and MANDELA: STRUGGLE AND TRIUMPH.

During his career, David has photographed in some 75 countries, documenting the end of the Cold War, the student movement in Tiananmen Square, the conflicts in Iraq, Afghanistan, Chechnya, Northern Ireland, Israel-Palestine, and the famines and genocides in Somalia and Rwanda. He has published eight books of his photographs, and has also directed three feature length documentary films: LA TROPICAL, in Cuba, THE DALAI LAMA – AT HOME AND IN EXILE, and his most recent film – SHENANDOAH.

David currently has a tenure track appointment as an Associate Professor teaching Documentary Photography and Filmmaking at the University of Michigan, with a joint appointment between the Residential College, and the Penny W. Stamps School of Art and Design.

David earned his Bachelor’s Degree from the University of Michigan Residential College in French Literature. He has received two Honorary Doctorate degrees, one from the New School of Social Research in New York, and the other from Saint Francis College In Fort Wayne, Indiana, his home town. He has also studied at the Sorbonne in Paris, and he studied under a Nieman Foundation Fellowship at Harvard in 1997-1998.
David is the proud father of two children, Charlie, 20, raised in Cape Town where he is now a third year student at the University of Cape Town, and Dawson, 22 months. He is married to Rachel Turnley.